Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dan Steinberg of DC Sports Bog at the Washington Post,
Washington’s season-long “stick to the script” mantra now gets more complicated now, because the script has been covered with graffiti and red scribbles. Letang will be back Saturday night. Washington’s power play has been one of its bedrocks, but that unit now is 1 for 12 in this series. And it gets ever more difficult to argue that Vezina Trophy front-runner Braden Holtby gives Washington a significant advantage in net, not when Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray has looked so unshakable. For the second straight game, he stoned breakaway wizard Oshie alone in front of the net, and he out-dueled the more heralded Holtby.
Washington’s comfort with adversity was supposed to be another edge. The Capitals were 27-6-8 in one-goal games during the regular season, the league’s best mark. In the playoffs? They’re now 2-4. They showed backbone, sure, tying the score after Justin Williams won a puck in the corner, and surviving that Alzner penalty despite the absence of two of their top penalty killers. I promise you that those moments will not be fondly recalled if the Caps lose this series.
“We’ve been in some tough spots before,” Alzner said. “It just comes with the job. You find a way to get over it as fast as you can.”
Of course, it isn’t over quite yet. Washingtonians are plenty familiar with blown 3-1 series leads, and the Capitals will get at least one more chance to back up their Presidents’ Trophy. But it’s hard to imagine they won’t look back with regret on this game – against a shorthanded team, and with desperation supposedly on their side.
It’s the kind of game that would have looked great in a Road to the Stanley Cup commemorative book. Because it’s the kind of game a champion might have won.
Don Cherry and Ron MacLean takes a look at the slash on Sidney Crosby and how it could have been prevented by taking out the instigator rule.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Riddle me this: If the Washington Capitals, the NHL's best regular-season team by a country mile and a team seemingly built for its best chance at Stanley Cup glory, cannot beat an injury-depleted Pittsburgh Penguins team in a crucial test, what hope do they have to win three straight to stay alive in these playoffs?
The simple answer in the wake of the Penguins' dramatic 3-2 overtime victory Wednesday is that the Capitals, for all their resolve and success and talent, are once again staring into the abyss.
That's how good the Penguins are proving to be, no matter who is in their lineup. And that's how big an opportunity the Capitals let pass in Game 4, a game that was fully set for the taking but which still somehow eluded them, just as previous playoff successes have always seemed to settle just outside their grasp.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Alex Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals are now standing in front of a mirror. What do they see?
Is it the long past of playoff heartbreaks, or the fortitude they claim to have fostered these last several months while compiling the NHL’s best regular season record?
They will spend the next two days hearing about both possibilities before facing a must-win Game 5 against the Pittsburgh Penguins back at Verizon Center on Saturday. This will be an uncomfortable time.
Missed the action from last night? Watch below...
Washington @ Pittsburgh 8:00 PM ET NBCSN, CBC and TVAS
The Penguins are up 2-1 and you would have to think the Capitals need this game more than the Pens.
Feel free to discuss...
from Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
If it’s possible to gain control of an NHL playoff series by losing a hockey game, the Washington Capitals might well have done precisely that in Game 3 Monday night.
Nobody in the visiting locker room at Consol Energy Center on the day before Game 4 would say anything close to such a thing, of course, but the notion that the Capitals somehow turned these Eastern Conference semifinals inside out, even as they were getting strangled by the brilliant rookie goalie Matt Murray, did not exactly get laughed out of the room.
“Potentially,” allowed Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen, the former Penguin. “I know we don’t like the result [Monday] night, but I know we feel a lot better than we did after Game 2, so that’s important.
“We found out some things that are gonna work for us.”
Would the Washington Capitals be better off if forward Marcus Johansson had been unable to return to the ice during Monday night’s loss to the Penguins? No one would seriously hope for such an outcome. And yet the NHL’s disciplinary process for dangerous hits at least raises such questions.
-Dan Steinberg of DC Sport Bog where you can continue reading on this topic.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan comments on the Kris Letang hit on Marcus Johansson in Game 3.
FYI- Barry Trotz basically said let the league handle it.
If you missed the Letang hit, watch it here.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The hits keep on coming in a series loaded with skill but dominating the headlines for the wrong reasons.
A game after Brooks Orpik leveled Olli Maatta with a high, late hit that garnered the Washington Capitals defenseman a three-game suspension, star blueliner Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins is now facing potential supplemental discipline for his high hit on Marcus Johansson in Game 3 on Monday night.
The series began with Tom Wilson's questionable leg-on-leg hit on Conor Sheary in Game 1, which netted him a fine.
There has been a constant undercurrent of hate between the two rivals. We all love tough, emotional, physical hockey -- as long as it doesn't cross the line.
This series needs to be reined in.
The question now is whether this series turns on Letang's hit or not. His absence would be a huge blow to a thin Penguins blue line.
Watch the highlights of the Pens 3-2 win over the Caps below...
Two minutes for interference.
Series is tied 1-1.
Washington @ Pittsburgh 8:00 PM ET NBCSN,CBC & TVAS
Calling the game for NBCSN will be Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire.
Feel free to discuss the game as it plays out tonight.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com