Martin St. Louis

‘Nothing better than playoffs in a big market,’ says Martin St. Louis

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Go ahead and accuse me of reading too much into a quote, but I found this one from Martin St. Louis (courtesy NHL.com’s Tal Pinchevsky) rather interesting…

Ever since St. Louis demanded and got his trade out of Tampa Bay, the conversation about playoff opportunity has been prevalent. He left a Bolts team to join very similar a Rangers team, at least in terms of standings — Tampa has 95 points to New York’s 93, both are going to finish either second or third in their respective divisions, and both are within striking distance of the 45-win plateau (the Rangers need one more, the Lightning two.)

Prior to the Ben Bishop injury, you’d be hard pressed to say the Rangers were an overwhelming Cup contender compared to Tampa Bay…which could lead you to speculate that, just maybe (and for lack of a better explanation), St. Louis thought it’d be cooler to win a Cup in New York than win another one in Tampa Bay.

Since neither St. Louis nor the Lightning would divulge reasons as to why he wanted out — the rift with GM Steve Yzerman over the Canadian Olympic snub was the prevailing thought, but never confirmed — many were left to speculate. Sure, St. Louis referenced the desire to play closer to his home base in Connecticut (“I always felt as my kids got older, I would try to come here,” he said). But after 13 seasons in Tampa, he could’ve waited until the offseason to demand a trade if that was the case — what would’ve a few extra months been?

Well, they might’ve been a lot for someone that had been thinking about leaving for quite some time.

Per the Tampa Bay Times:

St. Louis said he considered leaving years ago, especially after then-owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie traded defenseman Dan Boyle in July 2008.

“But I’ll be honest with you,” St. Louis said. “(Steven Stamkos) comes along (in the 2008-09 season) and it’s a lot of fun playing with Stammer. There were things pulling me in, but every year the equation changes. There are moving parts. You assess.”

The most recent assessment:

“One of my biggest things, honestly, is I never see my kids play hockey,” St. Louis said. “Just, for instance, my oldest has gone, since September, to Detroit three times, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Rochester, Atlanta. You’ve got to go outside the state to play pretty good competition. My wife and dad flies with him. I’m not saying Florida hockey is no good, but if you want to play against good competition you have to go outside.”

There are more opportunities in the Northeast, St. Louis said.

“It’s easier,” he said. “With the things between me and Steve [Yzerman] and you put in my kids, this was the best thing for everybody.”

A legit explanation. But hard to imagine Lightning fans agree with the last part.

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

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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: