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Greg Thornberry The Hockey Writers

Published on Tuesday, May 3, 2016





Penguins’ Letang Deserves Suspension

Pittsburgh Penguins’ defenseman Kris Letang deserves to be suspended.

No fancy lede here. I think that my point is pretty clear. Yesterday I wrote an article that largely praised the Penguins, and Letang for their composure and play that rose above the dirty game that the Capitals were playing. Then Letang throws a hit on Marcus Johansson that wasnt much better than the one that Brooks Orpik was suspended for.

The Twitter reaction was not a bunch of Penguins fans making excuses, but rather a frustrated fan base lamenting the possible suspension of their irreplaceable defender. Pittsburgh fans spent the better part of a week calling for NHL Player Safety to properly discipline players for hits like Tom Wilson’s on Conor Sheary, and Orpik’s hit on Olli Maatta.

I was very critical of Wilson, Orpik, and the league, so I am not going to be a hypocrite and not criticize Letang for his blatant disregard for another player’s safety. He also puts his team in an awkward position if he is suspended. Pittsburgh does not have another defenseman that even comes close to Letang’s level. He cannot be replaced and will leave a giant hole in the lineup.

It doesn’t matter if it is Letang, Wilson, or any other player in the league. These hits need to stop. I am writing this shortly after the game is over, and as much as it would hurt the Penguins, the NHL does need to suspend Letang. If they don’t, they simply got it wrong and are upholding everything that is wrong with the league.

People will argue about how many seconds, or fractions of a second it took Letang to reach Johansson, but the fact is that the hit was late. If any player should know what the consequences would be from such a play, it’s Letang. He has had multiple concussions, and has seen teammates suffer from serious concussions. Regardless of any excuse, the hit was completely unacceptable.

The Penguins Win…Somehow

The Captitals dominated nearly every statistical category in Game 3, yet somehow the Penguins pulled out a win.

Mistake-filled, undisciplined hockey by the Penguins allowed Washington to control this game, almost from beginning to end. In many ways it was a difficult game to watch if you follow Pittsburgh hockey. The Capitals had 49 shots on goal versus Pittsburgh’s 23. In all situations Washington had 85 shot attempts as opposed to the Penguins’ 36.

Pittsburgh finished the game with ten players having a Corsi For % below 30%. Only four players were above 50%.

To top it off, the Penguins were outhit 58-25. I could go on and on. I am going to use a phrase that I am not a big fan of, but I find it appropriate. The Penguins were a hot mess.

Of Murray and Fleury

So let’s end this on a high note. Matt Murray was beyond phenomenal. It can easily be said that he won Game 3 for Pittsburgh. He stood on his head and made more saves than should ever have been asked of him. As I said on Twitter, the Penguins players owe him a big steak dinner.

It was nice seeing Marc-Andre Fleury in uniform again, even if it was in a backup role. He is likely grateful that he didn’t have to play in the debacle Monday night.

It certainly was a strange game to watch. I can’t remember too many like it.

Until next time.


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