The Pittsburgh Penguins will get a huge boost to their lineup, as they look to eliminate the Washington Capitals in Game 5 at Verizon Center.
Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary missed Game 4 due to concussions but it has been announced that both forwards will be in the lineup for the Penguins in Saturday’s contest, having passed baseline tests prior to this game.
Despite missing Crosby and Sheary in Game 4, the Penguins had a great start, got some luck in the second period and then held on to defeat the Capitals, sending this series back to Washington with a 3-1 lead and a chance to once again knock out the Presidents’ Trophy winners in the second round.
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Here’s a look at the Penguins’ forward combinations during the pre-game skate.
Prior to his injury early in Game 3, Crosby had been having a terrific post-season. He had been particularly strong with four points through the opening two games of this series.
It’s difficult to ignore Sidney Crosby‘s concussion history after he was shaken up early in Game 3 of Monday’s Capitals – Penguins game.
Matt Niskanen received a major penalty and game misconduct for cross-checking Crosby, with some wondering if the major was excessive. Crosby was taken down as he went to the net, falling awkwardly into Niskanen’s check attempt. Crosby was down on the ice for a considerable span of time before being helped off without the need for a stretcher.
The maliciousness of the hit is up to debate.
Some will note that there was some nastiness between Crosby and Niskanen toward the end of Game 2. Others will understandably argue that it appeared largely accidental.
Game 3 continued to be a little nasty, as Tom Wilson went after Evgeni Malkin during Pittsburgh’s power play. Malkin closed his hand on the puck and was the only player assessed a penalty during that exchange, so Pittsburgh’s would-be five-minute advantage ended up being abbreviated.
We’ll see if things settle down and we’ll also eventually find out more about Crosby’s status, even if it’s just for tonight’s contest.
Again, Crosby looked quite dazed, so there’s a chance he might be done for Game 3. There’s also concern that it might be a lower-body injury rather than something related to his head.
As you can see in the video below, Mike Milbury and Keith Jones believe that the ejection/major penalty was the right call.
The series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets series was always expected to be an intense one on the ice, and thanks to the reckless actions of Matt Calvert at the end of Game 2 on Friday night it may have started to head in that direction.
What was a little unexpected though was the Columbus Dispatch planning on printing a “Crying Sid The Kid” mask in Sunday’s edition of the paper for fans to wear to Game 3 when the series shifts to Nationwide Arena.
It was a promotion that was not well received.
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On Saturday, the Dispatch has scrapped plans to distribute the masks.
Said editor Alan Miller (via the Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline): “We heard the response and we are not going to print it. We appreciate the input from hockey fans.”
It should have been a sign that the promotion was never going to make it when the original Tweet announcing it was deleted within hours of going live (the Internet never forgets).
While Miller references the response and input from hockey fans being a driving force in the cancellation of the promotion, it also seems possible (if not likely) that somebody from Blue Jackets management picked up the phone and urged the paper to reconsider. After all, that is probably not the look the Blue Jackets want when they are facing a 2-0 series deficit and just watched Crosby put three points on the board on Friday night.
Olli Maatta hasn’t played an NHL game in almost two months, but that will change today against the New York Rangers.
Out since the middle of February following hand surgery, Maatta will return to the Penguins lineup for the regular season finale, which is good news for the defending champions after the developments from earlier this week when they learned that their top blue liner Kris Letang is gone four-to-six months after neck surgery.
The Penguins and Rangers are both off to the playoffs. Today’s result has no impact at all in the standings. Pittsburgh is locked into second in the Metropolitan Division, while New York will finish as the first wild card team.
Given all the injuries they’ve dealt with this season, it’s hardly a surprise that the Penguins are also sitting Sidney Crosby, the league’s leading goal scorer with 44 — four better than Auston Matthews and Nikita Kucherov for the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy.
The Toronto Maple Leafs need one win this weekend to secure their first playoff spot since the 2012-13 season. The biggest reason they are in a position to make the playoffs is a dominant rookie class led by Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner. That trio has burst onto the scene this season with all three becoming immediate stars.
Matthews in particular has excelled and has put together one of the best goal scoring seasons ever for a player under the age of 20.
He enters the weekend needing just one goal to reach the 40-goal mark, something only 11 other players have done in a season before turning 20 (only two, Rick Nash and Steven Stamkos, have done it since 1992-93). He would also be the first rookie of any age to top 40 goals since Alex Ovechkin did it back in 2005-06 at the age of 20.
On Saturday, the Maple Leafs are hosting Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Crosby, the NHL’s current goal scoring leader, had a chance to talk at length about the impressive rookie season Matthews has had for the Maple Leafs and offered plenty of high praise
“I think the biggest thing that stands out is how he complete he is,” said Crosby, via TSN‘s Kristen Shilton. “That’s what I noticed from just watching him play. Just that maturity.
“His game is just so well-rounded. He’s a guy who can score goals but he’s a guy who can play away from the puck. He’s strong on the puck. He scores goals different ways, and that is probably a big reason why he is so consistent. He’s got a great shot, but he can also score from in close and goes to the net hard too. I think he’s just shown a lot of maturity in his game early on. He’s got a really good wrist shot. He’s not a one-timer guy like a Stamkos, or an Ovechkin. Those guys are known for that. He’s just a really skilled guy who has a lot of strength, almost like a power forward would have. It’s a good combination to have And he can skate. You can tell he played pro hockey for a year. And I think he enjoys the pressure. You can tell he’s really raised his game here down the stretch when the games have been important. He’s really embraced everything here.”
Matthews has certainly raised his game down the stretch for Toronto. As the playoff push has gotten tighter, Matthews has scored eight goals and added four assists in the Maple Leafs’ past 11 games, a stretch that has seen them go 7-3-1.