SOCHI, Russia — Mike Babcock was hesitant to “steal” from one line that’s already working to make another work better, but it appears that’s what Team Canada’s head coach has done ahead of tonight’s game versus Finland.
At today’s pre-game skate, wingers Chris Kunitz and Martin St. Louis were off the first line with center Sidney Crosby, replaced by Jamie Benn and Patrice Bergeron, a pair of wingers that had previously drawn rave reviews from Babcock for their play with center John Tavares.
That Kunitz is off the first line is the most notable move, as it was the chemistry he’d shown with Crosby as linemates in Pittsburgh that — despite what Canada’s management group asserted — was a driving force for his inclusion on the roster.
That said, Kunitz will remain in the lineup, with St. Louis coming out. (Defenseman Dan Hamhuis will also draw back in, with P.K. Subban coming back out.)
“I think Kunitz did real good where he was,” said Babcock. “But to me this wasn’t about Kunitz, it was just about our overall team and just trying to find things that work.”
Babcock also noted he can always put the Benn-Tavares-Bergeron line back together.
“I’ve got those lines set up where the wingers can go back and forth seamlessly,” Babcock said. “Kunitz and Nash can go tonight with Crosby in a heartbeat. So we’ll see what happens.”
The expected lines tonight:
Jamie Benn-Sidney Crosby-Patrice Bergeron
Patrick Marleau-Jonathan Toews-Jeff Carter
Matt Duchene-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Chris Kunitz-John Tavares-Rick Nash/Patrick Sharp
Related: Team Canada’s net is Price’s to lose
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.”
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.
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:
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.