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Marian Hossa Avoids Suspension for Hit

It was a wild finish in Game 5 of the Blackhawks/Predators series on Saturday. Down 4-3 in the final few minutes, Chicago pulled its goalie but lost its man advantage when Marian Hossa was sent to the box for pushing Dan Hamhuis into the boards. The play was reminiscent of Alex Ovechkin’s push of Brian Campbell that LBS writer Erin Redmond termed dirty. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with Ovechkin’s hit and the result of Campbell’s play confirms my initial belief — Hossa was called for a five minute major for boarding.

NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell decided no suspension was necessary for Hossa despite giving Alex Ovechkin a two-game suspension based on the “repeat offender” concept. Going back to the crazy finish in Chicago, Hossa’s penalty took away the Blackhawks’ man advantage when they pulled their goalie. Despite playing five-on-five hockey, Patrick Kane put in a rebound to tie the game at 4 with 13.6 seconds left. Just over four minutes into overtime, Hossa came out of the penalty box and poked a deflected puck into the net for the game-winner making it 3-2 Chicago in the series. Here’s the infamous video of Marian Hossa’s hit on Dan Hamhuis to see for yourself:

Sources:
Hawks’ Hossa avoids NHL Suspension [AP/Sporting News]

Sharks’ Dan Boyle Scores Goal on Own Team in Overtime

Usually I’m taking up for the NHL and hoping their popularity grows. Tonight, I’m relieved hockey’s not as big in the U.S. as some other sports. Had hockey been more popular nationwide, Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle might have befallen the same fate as Andres Escobar. Dan Boyle was trying to clear a puck about a minute into overtime of Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup between the Sharks and Avalanche. Unfortunately Boyle cleared the puck straight into his own net, past goalie Evgeni Nabokov. Here’s the video of Dan Boyle’s goal scored on his own net against the Avalanche. Just skip ahead about a minute.

That play is a microcosm of San Jose’s playoff struggles. Despite putting together strong regular seasons, the Sharks have tended to disappoint in the playoffs the last five seasons. Back in ’03-’04 the Sharks actually made the Western Conference Finals before losing to the Flames. The following three years they lost in the Western Conference Semis. Last year marked the ultimate disappointment when the Sharks won the Presidents’ Trophy but lost in the first round to the Ducks. They’re the top seed in the conference for the second straight year and in danger of losing in the first round once again thanks to this blunder. Making matters worse is the Sharks absolutely dominated this game but couldn’t put it away. I’m just happy hockey isn’t more popular otherwise Boyle would be completely ostracized.

First Day Upsets Prove the Stanley Cup Is Truly Up for Grabs

On Wednesday night the NHL playoffs got underway (I hope you’ve got your playoff beard started). It’s always exciting to see playoff hockey action and it’s even more exciting when the upsets start and the underdogs begin winning games. Ah yes, the toothless grins were shining bright last night, ladies and gentlemen, and don’t expect that to stop anytime soon.

Let’s start with the biggest upset of the evening — the eighth seeded Colorado Avalanche knocking off the top-seeded San Jose Sharks. It appeared that these two teams were heading for overtime when a shot by Chris Stewart of Colorado bounced off the skates of Sharks captain Rob Blake and into the goal to give the the Avalanche a 2-1 victory. Next, the reigning champs and Eastern Conference’s four seed, the Pittsburgh Penguins, were looking to prove that they could repeat as champs, starting off by beating the five seed Ottawa Senators. Well, it didn’t quite happen that way as the Penguins feel to the Sens 5-4.

I don’t mean to recap the nights events for you — if you want to know all the scores knock yourself out. My point is that the Avalanche and Senators were not favored to go very far in this postseason but all it takes is one upset to build momentum.  There are a lot of great teams in the playoffs this year and as of right now, it’s hard to say who will be hoisting that cup in a few weeks. If pressed for a prediction, I’ll go with the Blackhawks not just because I’m from Chicago, but because they were the underdogs last year and I don’t think they will let it get away again this year. This is a young team that’s hungry to bring the cup back to Chicago.