Whether you focus more on Sidney Crosby’s successes or Alex Ovechkin’s struggles in recent games between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, there’s no mistaking the contrast in results.
The Penguins have now won eight games in a row against their rivals, no doubt prompting some to call for some quotation marks around “rivals.” That includes two victories for Pittsburgh in back-to-back nights as the Pens took a 2-0 win on Tuesday following a 3-2 triumph on Monday (each in regulation).
Two stars with very different results
The numbers are pretty jarringly in Crosby’s favor in these past two games in particular. The 26-year-old star factored into all three of Pittsburgh’s goals on Monday and scored the insurance marker tonight. In that two-game span, he collected two goals in two assists.
It’s much easier to summarize the Washington Capitals’ standings point takeaways and Ovechkin’s own point total through those two contests: zero. Fair or not, many will label that as the 28-year-old failing as usual along with his team.
Of course, that takes a lot away from guys not named Crosby and Ovechkin. Both Penguins goaltenders were excellent in this two-day span; Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 33 shots for his fifth shutout of the 2013-14 season (including 20 Capitals shots in the third period) while Jeff Zatkoff stole one for Pittsburgh in many ways last night, stopping 31 out of 33 shots.
With this, the Penguins cement their dominance over the Capitals and strengthen their playoff positioning in the East while Washington only faces greater questions about its future.
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.
Looking back at 10 years of Alex Ovechkin with the Washington Capitals, in case the above video made you want more. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)
David Conte spent 10,000 days with Lou Lamoriello and lived to tell about it. (TSN)
Want to spot some contract year guys? Here are 32 pending restricted free agents. (Sportsnet)
NHL GMs are starting to sniff around with the 2015-16 season about to kick off. (Ottawa Sun)
Some backstory on Zack Kassian that was passed around on Twitter last evening. (Canucks website)
Hey, you can’t say Raffi Torres hasn’t literally paid for his ways:
This is some quality chirping between Jaromir Jagr and Matthew Barnaby:
Does the NHL have a cocaine problem?
TSN caught up with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who provided some fascinating insight:
“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”
Daly said that he’d be surprised “if we’re talking more than 20 guys” and then touched on something that may be a problem: they don’t test it in a “comprehensive way.”
As Katie Strang’s essential ESPN article about the Los Angeles Kings’ tough season explored in June, there are some challenges for testing for a drug like cocaine. That said, there are also some limitations that may raise some eyebrows.
For one, it metabolizes quickly. Michael McCabe, a Philadelphia-based toxicology expert who works for Robson Forensic, told ESPN.com that, generally speaking, cocaine filters out of the system in two to four days, making it relatively easy to avoid a flag in standard urine tests.
The NHL-NHLPA’s joint drug-testing program is not specifically designed to target recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. The Performance Enhancing Substances Program is put into place to do exactly that — screen for performance-enhancing drugs.
So, are “party drugs” like cocaine and molly an issue for the NHL?
At the moment, the answer almost seems to be: “the league hopes not.”
Daly goes into plenty of detail on the issue, so read the full TSN article for more.