The Pittsburgh Penguins will have a tougher task as they head into Game 4 of their Stanly Cup Playoff series with the Washington Capitals.
They will have to do so without their MVP superstar, Sidney Crosby.
According to Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Crosby will miss Game 4 after being diagnosed with a concussion.
The injury to Crosby came in Game 3 and has sparked a firestorm on social media, the NHL and the media as a while.
Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen won’t be facing any supplemental discipline from the NHL for his high cross-check on Sidney Crosby during Game 3 and Alex Ovechkin seems to have gotten away with a dangerous, head-hunting, slash to the head of Crosby prior to Niskanen’s hit.
Niskanen was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the collision with Crosby.
The actions of the Capitals outraged many in the media and around the league, in particular Pittsburgh reporter Rob Rossi who got into a contentious exchange with Caps coach Barry Trotz after the game and published a scathing article afterwards that made headlines.
Rossi suggested that the Capitals planned to injure Crosby during their Saturday night closed-door meeting. Rossi also said; “Ovechkin, who can’t beat Crosby on the ice, decided to remove him from it.”
Rossi also posted a video follow up to the article continuing his verbal assault on Trotz.
“It’s nothing personal, Barry,” he began. “I actually kind of like you. But you say a lot of stupid things, and you don’t win a lot of playoff games. … And I’m starting to think there’s a reason for all of these, well, let’s just call them playoff failures in your career. You’re the master at getting the most out of your team in the regular season, which makes you the perfect coach for the Washington Capitals. Because who knows getting the most out of the regular season better than the Washington Capitals?
“But playoff hockey is a little bit different, and some of the things you’ve said are indicative of some of the things that the Capitals have done in this series,” Rossi said (h/t Washington Post).
“And it’s not real intelligent hockey. It’s not hockey conducive to winning in the postseason. And one of the things you’re going to see as this postseason continues is the Penguins advance, the Capitals go home, and it’s all because Barry Trotz. Maybe he’s a good coach. Maybe he’s even a really good coach. But to be a really successful coach in the playoffs, you need to be great. And if you just listen to him talk, you’ll know Barry Trotz is incapable of that.”
Niskanen claims that his hit was not intentional.
“I’ve seen the replay,” Niskanen said. “In super slow-mo, it looks really bad. I caught him high. He’s coming across trying to score. As he’s doing that, he’s getting lower and lower, and when it’s happening that fast, you know, my stick and his head collided. I wasn’t extending trying to hit him in the head. It happened quickly.
“I wasn’t even trying to cross check him with a serious amount of force. A collision was going to happen there in the crease. When the play first starts, I think my stick’s at about his arm level probably, right about where the numbers are on the side of his jersey. And because he’s trying to make a play, he’s getting lower and lower because he’s getting pressured, trying to score, so the collision happened there.”
In any event, the Pens will be without Crosby for Game 4 and the series just got a little more testy.
Will there be payback in store for Game 4?