Bryan Rust hits the ice after being knocked out of Game 1

Mike Sullivan and Bryan Rust (Photo by Ken Campbell)

CRANBERRY, PA – More than an hour after the Pittsburgh Penguins completed their workout Tuesday afternoon, injured winger Bryan Rust went out on his own and worked with the Penguins coaches.

Wearing a Penguins track suit and ball cap, Rust took a number of reps with coach Mike Sullivan on the ice and didn’t seem to be hindered in terms of speed. He worked out for about 25 minutes and largely did skating and shooting drills. Rust was injured in the third period of Game 1 of the final when he took a hit from Patrick Marleau where there was contact with the head. Rust spent about seven minutes in the Quiet Room, then returned to the ice for one more shift and was hit into the boards by Marc-Edouard Vlasic before leaving the game for good.

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Russia told Slava Voynov cannot compete at World Cup due to NHL suspension

Jared Clinton
Slava Voynov (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

On the day final World Cup rosters were released, Russia shocked everyone by adding Slava Voynov their roster. The former Los Angeles Kings defenseman is currently suspended by the NHL following a no contest plea to a domestic assault charge, which made Voynov’s addition by the Russian Hockey Federation surprising, but it doesn’t appear his inclusion on the roster will mean he’s playing at the tournament.

During his media availability ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final, commissioner Gary Bettman said that Voynov, 26, will not be allowed to suit up at the World Cup because of his current suspension from play in the NHL. The World Cup is a tournament being put on by the NHL and NHLPA, thus the league and Players’ Association can make that ruling.

“He’s been suspended from the league,” Bettman said when asked about Voynov. “The Russian Federation was told that he was not eligible to play in the World Cup. What happens from that moving forward in terms of what somebody may try to do is a different story. But his status has not changed.” Read more

Suspend him or not: Patrick Marleau knocks Bryan Rust out of Game 1

Patrick Marleau (Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH – Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks waited 1,576 regular season and playoff games to play in his first Stanley Cup final game and he doesn’t think he should have to wait any time to play his second. He likely won’t.

Expect the NHL to take a long, hard look at his hit on Bryan Rust of the Pittsburgh Penguins early in the third period of Game 1, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the NHL to impose any supplementary discipline. Marleau took a minor for an illegal check to the head when he caught Rust in open ice. Rust went to the Quiet Room and was cleared to come back to the game, but played just one shift before calling it a night.

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American League means business when dealing with headshots

Ken Campbell
Andreas Johnson (via HockeyWebcast)

Dan Kelly of the Albany Devils made it oh-so-easy for the American League to toss the book at him. In fact, Andreas Johnson of the Toronto Marlies hadn’t even gotten up off the ice from the vicious headshot Kelly laid on him Tuesday night before people were predicting a double-digit suspension for him.

Clearly, Mr. Kelly has a difficult time learning to keep from hitting other players in the head, since he had already been suspending a game in December and another game last season for the same offense. Johnson, on the other hand, got almost no time to get accustomed to the learning curve when it comes to violence in North American professional hockey. After playing three years in the Swedish Elite League, he came over after the playoffs this year and was playing in just his second AHL game. The idea for him was to get a taste of the league before coming over to play full-time next season, not to get his head almost taken off.

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Shame such a great game was decided by such a terrible non-call

Brian Boyle (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN – Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper was talking about his team’s game Tuesday night and how it’s a great example of why we all love this game so much. And he’s right. But it’s also a pretty good example of why this game infuriates us, too.

We love it because when it’s played like it was in the Lightning’s 5-4 overtime win over the Islanders in Game 3, it embodies everything that makes this game great. It also infuriates us because too many times, the lack of awareness/incompetence of the referees ruins it. What people who think that officials “should let the players decide things” fail to realize is that referees influence the outcome of a game with non-calls, too. And that’s exactly what happened in Game 3.

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Update: Kris Letang suspended one game for late hit on Marcus Johansson

letang hit

Is Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang a lightning rod for dangerous plays or what?

Whether he’s giving or receiving, he can’t seem to dodge controversy. Letang avoided a suspension for this slash in the first round of the playoffs on the New York Rangers’ Viktor Stalberg, as the NHL Department of Player Safety felt the stanchion launched Letang’s stick into Stalberg’s face.

Letang might have a tougher time escaping the law after what happened in Game 3 of his Penguins’ Metropolitan Division final matchup against the Washington Capitals Monday. A look at his powerful hit on Caps left winger Marcus Johansson:

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Sensational Matt Murray wins Game 3 for Penguins – and the better team loses

Matt Murray and Patric Hornqvist (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

So much for messing with Matt Murray’s head.

That was the concern, at least in this corner, upon learning the Pittsburgh Penguins would dress their usual starting goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury, for Game 3 of the Metro Division semifinal. Fleury hadn’t played since March 31, when he sustained his second concussion of the 2015-16 season. Fleury earned a clean bill of health after missing the Pens’ first seven playoff games, and coach Mike Sullivan dressed Fleury as a backup to Murray Monday night.

There were two risk factors there. For one, was it worth bringing Fleury back if he wasn’t going to start anyway? Why not rest him further in that case? And secondly, what would Fleury’s presence do to Murray’s psyche? It would only be human to look over his shoulder a little bit with the franchise’s all-time wins leader sitting a few dozen feet away in full gear.

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Capitals’ Orpik banned three games for hit on Penguins’ Maatta

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 30: Brooks Orpik #44 of the Washington Capitals and Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins battle for the puck during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on April 30, 2016 in Washington, DC. The Penguins won 2-1. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik was allowed to stay in Saturday’s Game 2 after knocking Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Olli Maatta out of the contest with a questionable hit. He did receive a minor penalty for interference on the play.

But Orpik didn’t escape more substantial punishment. The NHL Department of Player Safety suspended Oprik for three games on Sunday, banning him from playing until a potential Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

“This hit is forceful, unacceptably high and excessively late,” Player Safety director Patrick Burke said in a video explaining the rationale behind the suspension.

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