Ryan Kesler

Kesler on Torts: ‘I want to be told what I’m doing right and wrong’

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Back in January of 2012, then Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault was asked for his thoughts on the offensive struggles of star Canucks center Ryan Kesler, who had tallied just three points in his last eight games.

Here’s what Vigneault had to say: “I think he has to use the players around him a little bit more so that he can get into open space and create the type of offensive chances and be the type of defensive player that he can be.”

Translation: pass the puck more.

Vancouver being Vancouver, Vigneault’s response did not go unnoticed. And not just by fans and media — by Kesler himself.

“Me utilize my players?” Kesler said the next day. “Obviously, I don’t know what he means by that and if he wants to say that he can come to me and talk to me about it.

“I am going to play my game, the things that have made me successful. I know what that is and if he wants to come talk to me he is more than welcome.”

What followed was no shortage of speculation about Kesler’s relationship with Vigneault. Some blamed the player for being so prickly; others criticized the coach for sending messages through the media and not in private.

Fast forward to the present and the Canucks have a new head coach in John Tortorella — a guy with a long and celebrated history of ripping his players, both in private and public. (Just ask Carl Hagelin.)

Today, Kesler was asked about his new bench boss.

“I think Torts and I are a great fit. We both want to win and we both hate losing,” Kesler said.

Then: “I want to be told what I’m doing right and wrong.”

Possible translation: the last guy didn’t tell me what I was doing right and wrong.

How Kesler and the rest of his teammates — from the Sedins to Kevin Bieksa to Alex Edler to Zack Kassian to Roberto Luongo — respond to Tortorella’s methods will be interesting to watch.

Of course, it’s not just a new coach that should serve as motivation for the Canucks, who were swept in the first round of the 2013 playoffs by the San Jose Sharks.

“Last year was straight-up embarrassing,” said Bieksa.

Related: Torts warns Canucks on Twitter: ‘There better be nothing coming out of our locker room’

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.