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 4-3 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.
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:
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.
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.
Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik was only playing his second game since returning from what looked to be a serious injury resulting from a questionable check. And in that second game back, Orpik became the hitter under that same scenario rather than the recipient.
Orpik caught Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Olli Maatta with a high and late hit in the first period of Game 2 on Saturday – a 2-1 Pittsburgh victory. Orpik made contact with Maatta almost two seconds after he released the puck. Orpik’s forearm or elbow appeared to make contact with Maatta’s head.
Philadelphia Flyers winger Brayden Schenn will be the first player to sit out games in 2016-17 due to suspension, and he’ll have the whole summer to think about the hit that has him missing the first three games of the upcoming season.
Schenn, who will turn 25 this off-season, has been handed a three-game ban for charging Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie in Game 6 of the first-round series between the two clubs. Schenn’s hit came in late in the second period of the contest when Oshie was attempting to dig the puck out of the left wing corner in the Flyers’ zone.
Oshie was pulling the puck out of the feet of Alex Ovechkin after the Capitals captain threw a hit in the corner when Schenn approached Oshie from the side and, per the suspension video released by the Department of Player Safety, drove upwards through a check that caught Oshie high. Schenn’s hit is made worse by the fact there is “significant contact with the head” of Oshie on the play: Read more
We’ve all seen the video by now, right? We all know that Chicago’s Andrew Shaw bowled over Jay Bouwmeester for no reason, cost his team a chance to come back in a crucial game and then blew up at the refs. He flipped them off with both middle fingers and it really looks like he swore and directed a homophobic slur towards someone more than once – even tapping his stick on the penalty box glass to make sure the object of his derision was paying attention.
So what should happen to Andrew Shaw?
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: