Tuesday afternoon, the NHL announced a one-game suspension for Penguins defenseman Kris Letang. The linchpin of Pittsburgh’s blueline delivered a head shot to Capitals forward Marcus Johansson in Washington’s offensive zone during the first period. Letang was given a two-minute minor penalty for interference.
Johansson left the game and returned at the start of the second period, playing over 18 minutes. He passed concussion tests, but complained of neck pain. Tuesday morning, Johansson was held out of practice due what the Capitals termed an upper-body injury.
The Department of Player Safety explains their decision below.
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.
The Montreal Canadiens’ PK Subban just took a selfie during the Skills Competition. I see Patrice Bergeron, Kris Letang, Cory Schneider, Sophia Jurksztowicz playing with her hair, and… hey, wait a second!
We’re going to need to enhance the right-hand corner of the photo.
Special thanks to Gary Bettman for letting the guys out of the Quiet Room long enough for us to snap this pic. Enlarge. (Photo illustration by Ian Oland)
The stars of the All-Star Game were a little less bright this year. Some of the familiar faces that fans expect were absent for reasons that are becoming all too familiar in the modern NHL: head injury. Approximately 85 head injuries have been reported this year, meaning that nearly ten percent of all active players have been injured. 28 of 30 teams have reported at least one head injury, while some franchises have dealt with as many six or seven. With star center Nicklas Backstrom now sitting out due to concussion, the issue has hit close to home for Caps fans.
The Pregame: Cartoonist Bill Griffith, who just this week turned 68, sees the overlooked and forgotten corners of America with blinding precision. We were reminded of this recently as we took a drive through portions of Pennsyltucky – clearly where the phrase “fat of the land” has great meaning – and its meth-addled capital, Pittsburgh. Or, borrowing from Zippy’s creator, Dingburg.
Previously we anointed Pittsburgh as the Epicenter of Suck. Following our travels, we can confidently proclaim that it has become, in fact, the Pinhead Center of the Universe. The gangrenous, foul-smelling trash pile of contemporary civilization. The trucker-stop, Thunderbird-guzzling, used baby diaper of cities. Imagine if Paul Verhoeven remade “Showgirls” today with the same cast and you’ve got Pittsburgh, only with less sexy and more elastic waistbands. It’s exactly that awful.
The Pre-Game: I think it was Benjamin Disraeli who said “Sometimes cities just suck.” Or maybe it was Don Rickles. We’re getting our historical figures mixed up.
Look, there’s nothing that stinks about San Diego, the actual place. It’s lovely. Or Phoenix, for that matter, if it weren’t for all the whack-a-doodles. Vancouver: now there’s a dandy city for you! If you can just get over all the residents piously reminding you just precisely how dandy it is.
On the other end, there are places like Mogadishu, a city that, I can comfortably assure you, sucks. Or vacation paradise Pripyat! – home to the entombed Chernobyl perpetual light bulb. Pyongyang. Philadelphia.
Then we come to the middle ground: decent places inhabited by truly awful organizations. Pittsburgh comes to mind. Hoorah, it’s beautiful and their food isn’t too toxic and the local rumor is that there’s even a museum or something. But it’s also home to the rat burrow of unctuous fink Richard Mellon Scaife and his poisonous heirs, and the ‘Terrible Towel’, which we rank as only just below Scaife as scabes-inducing. The Pittsburgh Penguins… and Dan Bylsma. Think about that for a moment: both the Penguins AND Bylsma (and his douche-hat) compressed into one geographic point. That single distinction alone is enough to push Pittsburgh to new title holder: Epicenter of Suck.
A time machine.
We had too much to dream last night. Blame the cough syrup. Either that or this stuff really did happen. We’ve got dazed and confused recollections of hotwiring a hockey time machine, tripping back to the past and then ahead to the future. We saw Gordie Howe play (when men were men), Steve Yzerman (when he was hot), and the Great One (when mullets were cool). We took in a few Penguins games of yore (when a young Sidney Crosby taught us all how to laugh) and even dialed it back further to when Bruce Boudreau was slim …mer. Go Fort Wayne Komets!
Before dropping the contraption back off back at RMNBHQ (with a full tank), we bounced ahead to Friday morning to see how tomorrow’s game against the Pens turned out. So this is in effect a pre-review, we promise only a few spoilers. If Thursday’s game doesn’t go as we witnessed it, that’s because Chris has been screwing with the space-time continuum-thingie again. Ugh, kids.
Ovi swings with the knob of his stick during the Breakaway Challenge. (Photo credit: Kevin C. Cox)
Alex Ovechkin won his third straight Breakaway Challenge title tonight at the 2010-11 NHL SuperSkills Competition. How did he win it? With an unbelievable series of moves in his second and fourth attempts. In his second breakaway, Ovechkin smoothly juggled the puck in mid-air from center ice. He then knocked the puck up high up to himself, switched the position of his twig, and then swung with butt end of his stick. In his fourth and final attempt, Ovi dribbled the puck down the ice with the knob of his stick, went to his knees, got back up, and then went backhand on Marc-Andre Fleury. After he scored, Ovi sheathed his stick Chi Chi Rodriquez style as players from both benches laughed and banged their sticks against the ice. Ovechkin had a giant smile on his face the entire time.
When asked about his moves, Ovechkin replied, “I’m so excited right now, I can’t remember.” Fair enough.
Ovi and Green’s Team Staal defeated Team Lidstrom tonight 33 to 22. Below the jump, we have video of Ovechkin’s breakaway attempts and the other most noteable Capital moments of the night.
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