Suspend him or not: Kris Letang gets away with an absurdly violent slash in Game 3

letang slash

Full marks to the Pittsburgh Penguins for winning Game 3 against the New York Rangers Tuesday night. Details here. But, sheesh, things might have gone differently had the referees caught defenseman Kris Letang’s dastardly act in the third period.

The Penguins led 2-1 at this point, so the Rangers surely could’ve used a power play, and they deserved to get one here. Check out the over-the-top slash from Letang on Rangers right winger Viktor Stalberg:

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Penguins smother Rangers to win Game 3. Here’s why New York should be worried

Matt Cullen celebrates his third-period goal in Game 3. (Jared Silber/Getty Images)

The conditions were perfect, in theory, for the New York Rangers to take over their Metropolitan Division semifinal matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night in Game 3. The Blueshirts were fresh off a convincing 4-2 victory over the Pens in Game 2. New York had captain Ryan McDonagh returning from a hand injury after missing the start of the post-season. And Pittsburgh was turning to Matt Murray, 21, for his first career playoff start in net.

But it wasn’t to be. Murray, an elite prospect ranked 39th overall in THN Future Watch, showed no signs of jitters in his first game back from a head injury. He challenged shooters and made a few tough saves early. His lone hiccup came on this downright pretty Rick Nash goal early in the second period:

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Rumor Roundup: Is Frederik Andersen a fit for the Maple Leafs?

Frederik Andersen (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

While the Toronto Maple Leafs made progress in the first season of their rebuild, they still lack a quality starting goaltender. The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons notes the only reason for Jonathan Bernier’s return next season is the year remaining on his contract. He thinks the Leafs could accelerate their rebuild with an upgrade in the crease.

Finding a good goalie this summer won’t be easy. There are slim pickings via unrestricted free agency, with former Leaf James Reimer the best of the bunch. It’s unlikely they’ll bring him back.

Options are also few in the trade market. Last month, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello scouted Frederik Andersen of the Anaheim Ducks.

Andersen, 26, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. If the Ducks are committed to John Gibson as their starter, Andersen could be shopped this summer. The Leafs could face competition for his services, as the Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes could also come calling. Read more

Banged-up Rangers give Raphael Diaz a call for blueline support

Raphael Diaz (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

First Ryan McDonagh, then Dan Girardi. The New York Rangers are living the “war of attrition” storyline that often dominates the Stanley Cup playoffs and they’re doing it right away. With those two regulars sidelined, the Rangers have called up defenseman Raphael Diaz from the AHL. When will he play?

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Brassard, Rangers even series with Penguins

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

Derick Brassard scored and added two assists and Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 29 shots as the New York Rangers evened the best-of-seven series with the Pittsburgh Penguins at 1-1 with a 4-2 win on Saturday.

With the Rangers trailing 1-0, Keith Yandle and Brassard scored 18-seconds apart in the second period. After Mats Zuccarello gave New York a 3-1 lead, Brassard set up Chris Kreider giving the visitors a 4-1 lead.

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Penguins should not start Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 2, no matter what

Marc-Andre Fleury (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Penguins could not have wished a better Game 1 result into existence than what occurred Wednesday night versus the New York Rangers. The Pens won on home ice, Patric Hornqvist notched a hat trick, and captain Sidney Crosby exploded the highlight reels with a beautiful breakaway goal.

And between the pipes is where things really broke Pittsburgh’s way. Third-string goaltender Jeff Zatkoff was forced into duty for Game 1 with Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion) and Matt Murray (head) unavailable. Zatkoff had a strong case for jitters considering he’d never played a minute of NHL playoff hockey before. To make matters worse, he’d start opposite future Hall of Famer Henrik Lundqvist.

But the adage, “that’s why they play the games” rang true Wednesday. Lundqvist lasted one period. A stick in the eye through his mask forced him out of the game after he returned briefly. Zatkoff was superb in the Pittsburgh net, turning aside 35 of 37 shots and making several bookmark-worthy saves.

Game 1 was a basket of puppies for the Penguins – and it creates a conundrum for Game 2. Starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury practised Friday and has a chance to return for Game 2. But have the Penguins suddenly gained the luxury of resting Fleury at least one more game, even if he’s cleared to play?

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Team speed and goaltending give Penguins decided advantage in Game 1

Patric Hornqvist, Antti Raanta, Phil Kessel  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Going into their first round playoff series, the New York Rangers had two decided advantages over the Pittsburgh Penguins. One of them was in goal and the other was that Sidney Crosby hadn’t exactly been a force in the playoffs against the Rangers.

Funny how things go in the playoffs. It took almost no time for things to be turned on their ear and for those two advantages for the Rangers to be extinguished by the Penguins. Jeff Zatkoff, a 28-year-old minor leaguer who has a 3-8-0 record and a 4.26 goals-against average in the American League playoffs, is the second-last player listed in the NHL Guide and Record Book. And he was probably the last player anyone would have expected to emerge as a hero in Game 1 of the NHL playoffs.

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Report: Derek Boogaard played after failed drug tests, failed 14 times in final six months of his life

Jared Clinton
Derek Boogaard. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

A complaint filed against Dr. David Lewis by Len Boogaard, the father of deceased former NHL winger Derek Boogaard, has led to an investigation by the California Department of Consumer Affairs, according to a report.

TSN’s Rick Westhead reported Friday evening that Lewis, who was one of the co-founders of the NHL and NHLPA’s joint Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH), is being investigated because Boogaard’s father believes doctors “failed in their medical and ethical obligations” to Boogaard after allowing him to continue playing after he failed or missed multiple drug tests. Westhead’s report states that following Boogaard’s release from a rehab facility in 2010, he was repeatedly in violation of the terms of an agreement he signed upon his release.

“Boogaard’s repeated violations included testing positive for opiate and stimulant drugs, admitting to making illegal purchases of narcotics, and for missing randomly scheduled drug tests, according to copies of Boogaard’s medical records obtained by Len Boogaard through the U.S. federal law known as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act),” Westhead wrote. Read more