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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Suspend him or not: Capitals’ Orpik could be in trouble after hit on Penguins’ Maatta

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 30: Olli Maatta #3 of the Pittsburgh Penguins falls back to the ice after getting injured in the first period against the Washington Capitals 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. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

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.

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Flyers to start 2016-17 without Schenn, who’s suspended three games for charging

Jared Clinton
Brayden Schenn hits T.J. Oshie (via NHL)

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

Yes, Andrew Shaw should be suspended for his embarrassing actions (Updated)

Ryan Kennedy
Andrew Shaw (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

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?

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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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Flint Firebirds owner Rolf Nilsen won’t be completely out of the picture

Ken Campbell
David Branch  (Tara Walton/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The five-year suspension levied to Flint Firebirds owner Rolf Nilsen by the Ontario League does not include off-ice activities, nor will it prevent Nilsen from participating in board of governors’ meetings or conducting league business, thn.com has learned.

And that’s a very important aspect of the suspension. Because the OHL is not denying Nilsen the opportunity to run his business and make a living from his hockey team, the suspension would have a far better opportunity of surviving a court challenge, should Nilsen choose to go that route. Nilsen has not declared his intentions and several calls to Patrick Ducharme, Nilsen’s Windsor-based lawyer, were not returned.

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OHL sanctions against Flint help, but don’t completely clear up a murky situation

Ken Campbell
Flint Firebirds  (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Faced with the possibility of a mass revolt from teenaged prospects against the Flint Firebirds, Ontario League commissioner David Branch had no choice but to take decisive and punitive action against Firebirds owner Rolf Nilsen three days before the league’s annual draft.

Branch announced Wednesday night the league has suspended Nilsen for five years – with an opportunity to apply for reinstatement in three years – revoked the third overall pick in the draft and fined the team $250,000 for violations, “contrary to the best interests of the players, the Team, and the OHL.” If Nilsen is found to violate the order by getting involved with the team in any way, the league reserves the right to force him to sell the team.

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