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NHL on NBC: It’s time for Hawks-Bruins rematch

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NBC continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign this afternoon when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Boston Bruins at United Center at 12:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

Roughly seven months ago Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland scored back-to-back goals for the Blackhawks in the span of 17 seconds to give Chicago a 3-2 lead over Boston with less than a minute remaining in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. That was the last turning point in a fierce series between two of the league’s finest squads in recent years.

Since then, the Bruins and Blackhawks have endured some turnover, as is inevitable in the salary cap era, but many of the players that made that series great are still on their respective squads. On top of that, neither team has succumb to a Stanley Cup hangover as they both lead their respective divisions.

That’s where we stand as they get ready for their first rematch since the Stanley Cup was raised.

“It’s going to be exciting to play these guys again,” Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith told CSN Chicago.

This is sure to be a hard fought battle, but not necessarily a controversial one.

“I would definitely say it’s different [than Vancouver],” said Bruins forward Milan Lucic, according to CSN New England. “There was so much more…I guess you could say, chippiness in the Vancouver series. The bad blood has still carried over as you could see in the last Vancouver game [last month].

“There isn’t as much talk of that headed into [Sunday]. We both know what’s on the line. I wouldn’t say there was any other series where there was a mutual respect [like with Chicago.]”

Chicago in particular isn’t known for pushing the rules as they have the second least penalty minutes per contest in the NHL.

The Blackhawks have been charged with just eight major penalties and no game misconducts in 2013-14. Boston is far more likely to drop the gloves on any given night, but they are another one of the six teams to get this far without a single game misconduct.

Instead, this game might be better to measure in terms of offense versus defense. Chicago is the league leader in goals per contest while the Bruins have the second lowest team GAA.

Both of these teams are still facing stiff competition and need every point they can get, but more than that, this is an important test for both of these squads. They each know what the other is capable of. The question is how they will respond.

PHT Morning Skate: Adam Henrique wants to make NHL 17 great again

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Martin Jones is a calming presence in the Sharks’ net. (Sports Illustrated)

–The Rangers should go after Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. (The Hockey News)

–Some people have pretty wild hockey tattoos. (BarDown)

–Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

–A great piece on how Bruce Boudreau impacted the Ducks and Capitals. (Sportsnet)

–It should be an interesting off-season for the Anaheim Ducks. (Daily Breeze)

Adam Henrique is a funny guy. He took to Twitter to try and get himself on the cover of NHL 17:

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

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Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

Letang told his side of the story:

The Capitals disagree:

While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

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If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

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It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

There are a few things we do know already.

For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.