ToddRichardsBench

Columbus’ power play is just awful

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I did one of these last week in the wake of Anaheim’s terrible man advantage — at the time, the Ducks had just two goals on their last 48 PP opportunities — and guess what? Since then, the Ducks been on fire! OK, maybe a slight exaggeration, but they have scored power play goals in consecutive games, and are 2-for-5 overall.

/throws out shoulder patting self on back

In light of that, I figured I should help out the Blue Jackets because their power play could really use some assistance — it’s gone 0-for-36 over the last 11 games.

Yeah. Zero for thirty-six.

“You can’t just sweep it under the rug. We have to talk about it and work at it,” head coach Todd Richards explained, per the Columbus Dispatch. “Some of this is about controlling emotions and not letting the lack of success affect us.

“If it affects you on the first one, it affects you even more on the second and third.”

Or, the 36th.

In the wake of the slump, Columbus’ power play has dropped to 18th in the NHL — 16.8 percent overall — and the fact they’re still 18th suggests the Jackets have the capability to score a man up. They were clicking pretty well on the power play in the 10 games prior to the slump, going 9-for-37 (a 24 percent clip) and have gotten solid production this season from the likes of James Wisniewski (tied for ninth among NHL d-men in power play points, with 20) and R.J. Umberger (who has the same number of power play goals, eight, as Phil Kessel and Patrick Sharp.)

Columbus needs to turn this slide around, and fast. It has a huge game tonight against fellow Eastern Conference wild card contender Detroit, and knows that a successful power play is key to earning valuable points down the stretch.

“After each game it starts to build frustration if you don’t score,” Jack Johnson told the Dispatch. “It’s so hard to score at even strength, especially this time of year, that if you don’t have success on the power play, you really put yourself behind the eight ball.”

Oshie’s hat trick lets Caps just barely squeak by Penguins in OT

Oshie OT goal
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What a start.

This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.

This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.

What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:

This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.

There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.

Twice:

If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.

NOTES:

Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.

— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.

— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.

— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.

— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.

Video: Wilson delivers late, knee-on-knee hit to Sheary

Wilson hit
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Tom Wilson has already found himself in a controversy for delivering a late, knee-on-knee hit to Penguins forward Conor Sheary in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night.

You can see that incident below:

Wilson spent two minutes in the sin bin earlier in the contest for crosschecking Evgeni Malkin, but there was no penalty on this play.

Fortunately Conor Sheary was able to stay in the game. The question now is if Wilson’s actions will lead to him being suspended prior to Game 2.

This isn’t Wilson’s first brush with controversy. He delivered a big hit to Brayden Schenn in 2013, but Wilson wasn’t suspended for that incident. Lubomir Visnovsky’s final campaign was cut short due to a check by Wilson that angered the New York Islanders. More recently, Nikita Zadorov was concussed by a crushing blow from the Capitals forward.

In 231 career regular season games, Wilson has 50 points and 486 penalty minutes.

Related: Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints

Video: Penguins, Caps combine for three goals in 90 seconds

Oshie goal
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For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.

Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.

In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:

After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.

Video: Beagle gets stick stuck in visor

Beagle
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Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.

Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below: