After these first three games in this NHL playoff series, it’s safe to say the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins really don’t like eachother. The first hit came in game 1 when Tom Wilson had a questionable leg-on-leg hit, which he was fined for. In game 2, Brooks Orpik leveled Olli Maata with a late hit to the head, in the game he was given a two minute minor, but the league also handed him a three game suspension. Now game 3 is finished and Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang has been suspended 1 game for a similar hit in principle on Marcus Johansson, Letang also received a two minute minor in the game.
This series is out of control, and the refs need to gain control. The hate between these teams has shown, too much so as the dirty play and even the borderline play is marring the series. Letang’s suspension may make a difference as his absence could effect the Penguins, even costing them the game. An idea could be to toss out more 5 minute majors, the idea of hurting or hindering their team more may deter the men from intentionally illegal play.
“I didn’t see him coming, he came from the blind side,” Johansson said after his team’s 3-2 loss in Game 3, which gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 series lead. “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.”. When asked if he expected Letang to receive a 3 game suspension like Orpik’s he had this to say, “Yeah, I’d say so.”. But Letang’s hit wasn’t as late as Orpik’s but there’s also no question his hit was high.
The other important factor is that while Maatta was injured and missed Game 3, his return to the series unknown, Johansson returned to the game on Monday night. “I went through all the concussion tests and stuff like that. Just some issues with my neck right now,” Johansson said. “I just got hit right in the head and a little whiplash I think. It is what it is.”. Letang spoke to the media after the game.
These two plays show that the refs need to clamp down on these teams. These key suspensions may help as each team loses defensemen, but Letang’s suspension is worse for Pittburgh than Orpik’s is for Washington. Each game has had at least one questionable hit to this point. And there have been two suspensions and a fine handed out this series.