Report: Pens clinch playoffs, but lose Kessel

Oh no… some potentially devastating news regarding Penguins sniper Phil Kessel.

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In case you missed it, the Pittsburgh Penguins officially punched their ticket to the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs last night after defeating the Montreal Canadiens 5-2.

It’s no surprise that the two time defending Cup champions are back in the Playoffs for the 12th consecutive season. After all, fans and analysts have pegged the Pens as Stanley Cup favourites all season long. However, a development in last night’s contest may have a huge impact on the team’s Cup odds this season.

Forward Phil Kessel left the game early in the third period with an apparent injury and did not return. While it hasn’t been confirmed that Kessel is in fact injured, here’s the play in question that took him out:

This morning during the team’s gameday skate, Kessel was absent as was the injured Derick Brassard:

What this means for Kessel’s status tonight against the Washington Capitals remains to be seen, but Kessel’s eight season streak of playing EVERY game is in serious jeopardy. Stay tuned, Pens head coach Mike Sullivan is expected to update the media later this afternoon on Kessel’s status. 

Breaking: Marchand takes down MacDonald then cross checks him in the face

Fresh off of being named the NHL’s 2nd star for the month of March, Boston Bruins super pest Brad Marchand is back to his old tricks.

 With just seconds left in the second period of today’s game between the Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers, Marchand chased a puck onto the sideboards with Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald following him. MacDonald rides Marchand into the boards and gets tangled up while attempting to kick the puck free, MacDonald falls backwards awkwardly, then Marchand decides to take liberties with the veteran blue liner by sticking him in the mouth while he’s down.

Check it out:

Ouch… talk about hitting a man while he’s down. For what it’s worth, Marchand earned himself a two minute minor for this transgression, so it’s not like it went completely unpunished. But… c’mon Marchy, we thought you turned over a new leaf.

I guess the old saying, “old habits die hard” rings especially true for Marchand. Despite being a supremely talented player, Marchand seems to find his way into headlines for this type of behavior more so than his strong play on the ice. Still… for some reason we can’t really judge the guy too harshly. He plays the game on the edge and sometimes crosses that edge. Some of the best players in history have played the same way, there’s nothing really unique about the way Marchand plays and chances are 30 other NHL teams would be happy to have him, just as the Bruins are.

Still, you can bet that the NHL will review Marchand’s actions today against MacDonald and the Flyers. With all the heat surrounding Marchand’s suspension for elbowing New Jersey Devils forward Marcus Johansson and his strong criticism of Marchand, something’s got to give. Don’t be surprised if the NHL throws the book at Marchand this time around.