Paul Stastny

Blues need Paul Stastny to be their key to a Stanley Cup

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When the St. Louis Blues signed Paul Stastny to a four-year, $28 million deal on July 1, many believed it to be the best signing of free agency. After all, who else can say they bagged a No. 1 center just by plunking down money?

The Blues have tried to keep the hype down regarding the 28-year-old former Colorado Avalanche pivot saying they don’t want him to be “Superman”, but when you look back the Blues’ recent playoff failures the pressure to do well offensively is plain to see.

Check out how the Blues offense has ranked out in goals per-game in the postseason the past three seasons:

2013-14: 2.33 (14th out of 16 teams)

2012-13: 1.67 (15th)

2011-12: 2.22 (7th)

Safe to say 2011-12 was an odd year if scoring just over two goals per game was good, but the point here is St. Louis’ offense has not gotten it done. Part of the blame there is thanks to Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings for the two times they bumped out the Blues. Corey Crawford looked to be very beatable in the most recent playoffs for Chicago, but Ryan Miller managed to be worse.

Call it excuses or point at other issues that have come up in recent years, but there’s no doubt adding Stastny to the lineup should help alleviate some of the goal production questions.

In his last three full seasons (lockout-shortened season excepted), he’s been a 70+ point per-season player. He’s good for 20-30 goals on his own and sets up others. That should work great for St. Louis’ goal scorers Alex Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko, and David Backes.

In last season’s playoffs, Stastny was a beast for the Avalanche with 10 points in the seven game series loss to the Minnesota Wild. While facing Ilya Bryzgalov is a bit different than facing Quick or Crawford, the Blues would be giddy to see that kind of performance in the playoffs. At $7 million per season, they’re counting on it.

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.