Author: Mike Halford

Pittsburgh Penguins v Anaheim Ducks

Letang (concussion), Dupuis (blood clots) to be ‘retested’ over next two weeks


The next 14 days will be fairly important ones for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Defenseman Kris Letang and forward Pascal Dupuis — who were shut down this season due to a concussion and blood clots, respectively — are set to undergo medical tests over the next two weeks in the hopes of clearing up their playing futures.

“We will hopefully know something then,” Pens GM Jim Rutherford said, per the Tribune-Review. “[We’re] keeping our fingers crossed.”

Dupuis, 36, was shut down in mid-November with a blood clot in his lung. While he said he feels he can return to action, he did acknowledge the decision was “not up to me,” and that a series of medical tests would be required before he could be cleared.

A regular linemate of Sidney Crosby, Dupuis is heading into the third of a four-year, $15 million deal that carries an average annual cap hit of $3.75M.

As for Letang, he was shut down in early April after suffering his fourth concussion in three years on this hit from Arizona captain Shane Doan:

The 28-year-old also suffered a stroke last season — one that, remarkably, only sidelined him for 10 weeks — yet insists that he’ll be ready to go for training camp in the fall.

More, from the Tribune-Review:

[Letang] hasn’t considered having his career cut short by head injuries.

“No concern,” he said. “I’m on my way to coming back. I’m just going through the protocol. I’ll be back on the ice. I missed only a bunch of games once, when I got (a concussion) in Montreal (in 2011). I never missed time for a concussion after that. I’m not really scared.”

Letang said he will be ready for next season.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “Oh yeah. Right from training camp.”

It’s likely the prognoses for both Letang and Dupuis will affect how Rutherford addresses free agency and potential offseason trades. The Penguins missed Dupuis’ production up front — in his last full season, the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, he had 38 points in 48 games — and Letang was the biggest injury on a blueline that was decimated in the second half of the season, to where the Pens dressed just five d-men for a couple of games down the stretch.

Sniper Games: Plenty at stake tonight for Nash, Ovechkin

New York Rangers v Washington Capitals

For two of the NHL’s top three goalscorers, this could be a spring to remember.

Or, one to forget.

Sure, it might be unfair and a bit elementary to draw such a thin line between success and failure — win, you’re good! Lose, you’re bad — but that’s what this Game 7 has ostensibly done for Washington captain Alex Ovechkin (who led the league in goals this year, with 53) and New York’s Rick Nash (who finished third, with 42.)

Nash’s postseason struggles are well documented. Since joining the Rangers, he’s suited up for 52 playoff games and scored just seven times — a per-game rate of 0.13, well off his regular season average as a Blueshirt (0.47).

“It was frustrating when you feel like you’re letting your guys down and your organization down by not scoring,” Nash said after scoring his first of the series — on 21 shots — against the Caps in Game 6, per

“Obviously, [goals] have been hard to come by.”

Nash is 31 in June. He’s now officially past the halfway point of his monster eight-year, $62.4 million deal and while he did enjoy a renaissance regular season — how many post a career-high in goals in their 12th year? — there are those that believe his legacy is now tied to what he does, or more specifically what he doesn’t do, in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Which brings us to Ovechkin.

After starting this series with aplomb — highlight-reel markers in both Games 1 and 2 — the Washington captain has gone silent in a similar fashion to Nash; plenty of shots on goal (17 in the last four games) but no production to show for it (pointless over that same stretch.)

The similarities to Nash don’t end there. Ovechkin was brilliant in his 10th year in the league; he posted his highest goal total in six years and a career-best 25 PPG.

But in the playoffs — yes, like Nash — scoring in the clutch has proved problematic. Ovechkin went goalless over the final three games of the Islanders series and heads into tonight’s tilt goalless in four. If the mounting pressure of those streaks wasn’t enough, Ovechkin put some more on his shoulders by guaranteeing a Caps win at MSG.

Ovechkin also knows it’s on him to follow through with that guarantee.

“We have chances but we have to make one or two steps,” he said, per “It starts for myself. I have to create more opportunities in front of the net, use the body and try to get the shot through.”

Reputation and legacy are fickle, nebulous things. Nash and Ovechkin head into tonight’s action as two of their generation’s premier goalscorers and while it’s crazy to think their reputations and legacies will be forged by a victory in Round 2, it’s not crazy to think either guy will take a sizable hit by losing — especially if they’re held off the scoresheet.

“I’m supposed to score goals,” Nash said, per the Record. “Hopefully they go in.”

Your Capitals-Rangers Game 7 officials are…

Alain Vigneault

Per Scouting the Refs, they’ll be referees Kevin Pollock (No. 33) and Wes McCauley (No. 4), with Pierre Racicot (No. 65) and Derek Amell (No. 75) working the lines.

Standbys are referee Francis Charron and linesman David Brisebois.

Some notes on tonight’s zebras…

• Pollock and McCauley have become something of a “go-to” tandem after not working together much in the early part of the playoffs. They called Game 7 of the Tampa Bay-Detroit series — a game that featured 18 PIM — and also worked Game 5 of this series (which featured the Joel Ward disallowed goal, which Pollock waved off.)

• “The goaltender wasn’t allowed to play his position in the crease,” series officiating manager Rob Shick said of Pollock’s call, per the New York Daily News. “Incidental contact (by Ward). I support the call. Results in no goal, no penalty.”

• In Round 1, Pollock worked the close-out Game 6 of the Minnesota-St. Louis series (in which only five total penalties were called.) McCauley worked the close-out Game 5 of the New York Rangers-Pittsburgh series (in which only six total penalties were called.)

As for the history Washington and New York have in Game 7s…

• The clubs will face off in a Game 7 for the third time in four years and for the fourth time overall, each coming in the past seven seasons. Washington won the first such meeting in 2009, while the Rangers have eliminated the Capitals twice in the past three seasons (2012 and 2013).

• Since their elimination by the Capitals in 2009, the Rangers have posted five consecutive Game 7 wins. Their streak is one shy of the NHL record set by the Detroit Red Wings, who won six consecutive Game 7s between 1949 and 1964, and the Boston Bruins, who captured six straight between 1983 and 1994. The Rangers also have won six consecutive Game 7s on Madison Square Garden ice, a streak dating to 1992.