marcus-johansson-hurt

In the first period of Game Three, Marcus Johansson got elbowed in the head by Kris Letang. The hit, which was not unlike Brook Orpik’s in Game Two, forced a dazed Johansson to retreat to the locker room. Johansson returned for the start of the second period and ended up skating nearly 20 minutes in the game. With suspensions and fines often based on whether or not the player is injured, the league’s Department of Player Safety will undoubtedly soften the blow to Letang because Johansson came back. The Capitals forward said he passed concussion testing but had “a little whiplash.”

“I didn’t see him coming, he came from the blind side,” Johansson said. “I just looked at it, he obviously leaves his feet, and hits me in the head. It’s the kind of play you want out of the league. Doesn’t look good.”

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Monday morning, Barry Trotz put on a figurative tinfoil hat and said one of the most wacky things he’s ever said as Caps coach. Frustrated by the length of Brooks Orpik’s three-game suspension, Trotz suggested the NHL favors the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“I’m disappointed, but I’m not surprised based on who we’re playing and all that,” Trotz said.

Later when asked to clarify, Trotz replied, “Take it for whatever you want.”

I, a rational human being, do not believe the NHL favors one team over another. But the problem is the optics. And the main provider of said optics is NBC, the NHL’s American TV partner.

Over the years, NBC’s analysis during intermission can basically be summed up like this: yell first, think later. Whether it’s Jeremy Roenick calling Alex Ovechkin a bad defensive player due to plus-minus or Keith Jones pushing tired narratives, NBC’s hockey analysis can seem more about settling scores than communicating constructive information. (It’s basically the opposite of CSN Mid-Atlantic’s coverage of Caps games.)

Mike Milbury, whose personality wavers from patient to cranky night to night, is the kingpin. During the first intermission of Game Two, Grumpy Milbury launched into an angry screed about Brooks Orpik’s headshot on Olli Maatta. The Orpik hit was bad, don’t get me wrong, but Milbury’s analysis still somehow managed to be over-the-top.

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Photo: Doug Pensinger

The Washington Capitals played their best game of the postseason in Game Three of the Second Round, firing 49 shots at Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray. After allowing three unlucky goals, two off deflections and one off a tip-in in the crease, the Capitals pummeled Pittsburgh with 21 shots on goal in the third period, scoring twice and nearly converting on a myriad of scoring chances in the final minutes. After the Capitals mustered just 10 shots through the first 40 minutes of Game Two, Nicklas Backstrom was angry with how his team played. But speaking after Monday’s loss, which put the Capitals down 2-1 in the series, he was far more confident in his team.

“We had more shots tonight than we had last game, so that’s a good thing,” Backstrom said after Game Three. “It’s a seven game series and I think it’s so important that you take something positive even if you lose. I thought we played right.”

The message was the same throughout the Capitals locker room.

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Penguins beat Caps 3-2: Nothing Feels Good

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Urine (Photo: Tom Guilitti

Albert Camus portrayed existence as the mythical Sisyphus carrying a stone up a hill only to watch it fall once he reached the top. Sisyphus trudges down and starts over. He drags up the hill again, and again it drops. This story, Camus tells us, is just like life: meaningless, tedious, thoroughly absurd.

Just like Capitals playoff hockey!

Washington sure tried hard. They sorta dominated play in Game Three, but the universe is unconcerned with effort. The Caps lost. The rock rolled down the hill.

Patric Hornqvist got one first, scoring after a failed Caps clear. One minute later it was Tom Kuhnhackle’s turn, getting some lucky bounces to beat Braden Holtby.

The Caps were furious in the second period, but it was Carl Hagelin who struck, making it 3-0 after Nate Schmidt’s misplay in his own end.

In the third, Alex Ovechkin ripped one to the top corner to crack Matt Murray’s shutout. With a minute left, Justin Williams found an open net and scored. The Caps pushed hard in those final minutes, but the rock rolled back down the hill.

Penguins beat Caps 3-2. Penguins lead the series 2-1.

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Alex Ovechkin Scores On Impossibly Fast Shot

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Coming into tonight’s game, Alex Ovechkin had been held goalless for the last five playoff games. According to CSN’s Rob Carlin, Ovechkin had not gone more than six games all season without scoring.

I can report that streak remains intact.

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Pierre McGuire Slaps Matt Cullen’s Butt

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Earlier on Monday, Barry Trotz, frustrated by the length of Brooks Orpik’s three-game suspension, suggested the NHL favors the Pittsburgh Penguins.

This GIF doesn’t help with that appearance.

Pierre McGuire, who works for the NHL’s TV partner NBC, gave a friendly butt slap to Matt Cullen after the pregame interview.

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Kris Letang’s Headshot on Marcus Johansson

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The first period of Game Three was bad, but worse than the scoreboard was the image of Marcus Johansson collapsed on the ice after suffering a late headshot by Kris Letang.

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Round 2, Game 3 Live Blog: Caps at Pens

Photo: Bruce Bennett

The series has moved to Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh all tied up 1-1 after Eric Fehr dispatched the Caps in Game Two at Verizon Center. The Caps are going to have to win a game in Pittsburgh, a place where they went 1-1 during the regular season, if they want to see the Eastern Conference Final.

Brooks Orpik has been suspended by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for 3 games after his late hit to the head on Olli Maata in Game Two. This likely means that Dmitry Orlov will return to the defensive corps and that Matt Niskanen, Karl Alzner and John Carlson are probably all never going to leave the ice.

Let’s get a win eh? Also, NEW SHIRTS! Liveblog below.

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Caps at Penguins Pregame: Bounce Back

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Photo: Dave DiCello

Tonight, the curtain drops in Pittsburgh for Game Three. The series is tied at 1-1, and it’s evident that the Capitals must play the hockey. After getting dominated by the Pens in Game Two, the Caps hope to bounce back in essentially every aspect of their play. (Except for you, Braden Holtby. We heart you forever.)

Puck drop is at 8 PM from Consol Energy Center, whose namesake’s stock is finally trading up. NBCSN with da coverage.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 56-18-8 52.0% 101.1 21.9% (5th) 85.2% (2nd)
Pittsburgh Penguins 48-26-8 53.0% 100.6 18.4% (16th) 84.4 % (5th)

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Photo: @WashCaps

For 30 minutes a crowd of reporters and cameramen stood in front of the white board in the Capitals locker room at CONSOL Energy Center. Numerous players entered the room and went to their stalls after Washington’s morning skate on Monday, but the assembled media stayed right where they were, waiting for Brooks Orpik to address the three game suspension levied by the NHL for his late hit to the head on Olli Maatta. Finally, after everyone else was already off the ice, Orpik walked into room, took off his equipment, and walked in front of the lights. While the rest of Capitals defended Orpik or refused to comment earlier, the offender made no excuses.

“I think it was fair,” Orpik said of the punishment given to him by the league’s Department of Player Safety. “It was a bad hit. It was intended to be a hard hit, definitely not at his head, but I don’t think there is anything that you can argue that it was definitely late. I think that was pretty black and white. I said that during my hearing yesterday.”

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