There are potentially two big suspensions are coming to the Lightning and Penguins respectively. Chris Kunitz with the first one, classic rule 48 ruling here, blindside elbow to the head of Simon Gagne. I would be surprised if there was not some sort of supplementary discipline as a result of this hit. It was not a particularly hard hit, but given Gagne’s history of concussion problems it could have had devastating effects. The second suspicious hit was Steve Downie on Ben Lovejoy behind the Pens’ net in “Death Valley.” This hit originally looked much less harmful than the Torres hit last night, but after watching the replay it appeared as though Downie was trying to dunk over Lovejoy…through his face. Downie has been suspended before and as a repeat offender I would also be surprised not to see some sort of suspension, even if it is only one game. This seems especially more true given Colin Campbell’s statement from earlier today regarding the Torres hit. Downie did leave his feet quite a bit and according to Campbell that is now part of rule 48.
This is turning into a nasty series which is great for playoff hockey. I had low expectations coming into this series without Malkin and Sid in the line up and Stamkos on a cold streak, however I have been proved wrong after watching the first two periods of tonights game. As each game starts to mean more and more I would expect this series to be full of good physical play with a lot of good grinder plays. We have already seen this as the Pens’ fourth line has been exceptional in this series and providing a much needed scoring touch with the absence of the top two centers. Marc-André Fluery has been exceptional as well. Look for Flower to steal a game or two down in Tampa. Unless the Tampa can find some secondary scoring I still expect the Penguins to move on to the second round. As far as injury news goes, Crosby is still at least 2-3 weeks out from playing. Until more is released Crosby will continue to be the eye in the sky for the Penguins. For those of you who don’t know, Crosby is wearing a headset and is in constant communication at all times with the assistant coaches, giving updates on systems or anything that he feels is relevant to the game. One thing I think that would be beneficial is for Crosby to give the Penguins some help on their power play. They are going on 0-15 on the man advantage and if they can get the PP to click it could be lethal to the Lightning’s Playoffs hopes.