Philadelphia Flyers v Buffalo Sabres

NHL on NBCSN: Flyers look to turn things around against Sabres

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NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Philadelphia Flyers host the Buffalo Sabres at Wells Fargo Center at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

Things have gotten exciting for the Philadelphia Flyers in all the wrong ways.

The Flyers are winless in six of the past seven games and now find their hold on third place in the Metropolitan Division getting slippery. The Columbus Blue Jackets are two points behind them and the New Jersey Devils are three back.

In those six losses, the Flyers have given up 17 goals and scored eight. Seeing the offense dry up at a time of the season when they need to get everything together for the playoffs is disconcerting. Getting shutout in back-to-back games against the Blues and Blue Jackets has helped add to the uneasiness in Philly and for good reason.

If there’s one Flyers player to keep an eye on it’s Vincent Lecavalier. In 51 career games against the Sabres, he has 40 points including 21 goals. While he’d recently been relegated to fourth line duty, he has three goals in the past five games, albeit goalless in the last three.

 

If the Flyers want to avoid facing the Boston Bruins in the first round, they have to get back on the winning track. The schedule might appear to be smiling upon the Flyers as the worst team in the NHL comes to town in the Buffalo Sabres, but appearances can be deceiving.

The Sabres are 1-5-1 in the past seven, but in the last two games they’ve given the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings a handful despite losing. With a pair of one-goal games, what the Sabres lack in talent they make up for in tenacity. Tyler Ennis is the guy to watch for them as he has two goals and an assist in the past three games.

If the Flyers want to get their offense sparked, they’ll do it against either Matt Hackett or Nathan Lieuwen in goal.

The tandem spent most of the season in the AHL, but with injuries to Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth, they’ve had to hold down the fort. If there’s anything that’s been a trademark of coach Ted Nolan’s team it’s that if they’re given opportunities to steal points, they’ll do it.

Look for the Sabres to face Steve Mason in goal for the Flyers. Ray Emery took a 4-2 loss against the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon.

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.

Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

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Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

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As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

Things could get ugly in Game 3:

One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

Also, lateness of the check:

The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

Read reactions to the check here.