Brad Richards

Vigneault praises Richards’ overall season, as buyout speculation continues

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Brad Richards currently has six years remaining on his current nine-year, $60 million contract, however he may soon find himself a headliner in the compliance buyout season.

Speculation that Richards could be bought out is running rampant right now, especially given his salary – a cap hit of $6,666,667 per year – and the fact he struggled mightily toward the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

In the final series against the L.A. Kings, the eventual champions, Richards registered just one point – an assist in Game 5, which the Rangers lost, giving L.A. its second title in the last three years.

Go back even further. Richards had only one goal in his last 11 playoff games, dating back to the start of the Eastern Conference final. So, it’s not hard to see what’s fueling this talk.

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault gave the 34-year-old Richards a glowing review of his entire season, which included 20 goals and 51 points in the regular season. But the bench boss didn’t offer anything definitive on whether the skilled forward would escape the buyout season.

“If you look at Brad’s overall season, he had a real good year,” said Vigneault, as per NHL.com.

“In the Final series I don’t know if it was a combination of some other guys might have been playing better than he was, but we had some decisions to make in Game 4 and Game 5. But his overall play, 5-on-5 and on the power play, during the year was very good.

“I’m very happy with what he brought to the table; a veteran player that from Day 1 was a real good extension of the coaching staff in that dressing room. I think he should walk away from this season very pleased in how he played and how he contributed to our team.

“As everybody knows there are decisions to be made. We haven’t made those yet. We’re going to talk and figure it out.”

PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice

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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.

Shane Doan took a friendly jab at the the movie “Miracle” and the Miracle on Ice. (BarDown)

–The best of the worst Upper Deck hockey cards from 2015-16. (Puck Junk)

–Here’s a list of the top 50 players in WHL history. (WHL)

–Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

–A sad story about how Chris Phillips feels helpless as his hometown of Fort McMurray burns. (CBC)

–“You want to get back into things right away (but) I think these last four or five months have been good for me.” Former Penguins coach Mike Johnston is ready to coach again. (Local XPress)

–Blues forward Jori Lehtera is in a pretty random commercial:

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

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Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

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Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.