Sport

Concussion spotter couldn't pull Crosby for hitting boards

Concussion spotter couldn't pull Crosby for hitting boards

Washington has not advanced to the Eastern Conference finals since 1998. We can sit here and I can explain for 10 minutes what concussion protocol is and all that stuff, but I don't really want to do it.

"I mean, if you're looking for a test if you're back, it's a good one", he joked. "We wanted to spread our scoring out". Facing elimination and with everyone already chalking this series up as yet another playoff failure for the Caps, Washington had nothing to lose in Games 5 and 6.

Only five Penguins players from that game remain with the team; Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Chris Kunitz and the injured Kris Letang.

"We need to get more zone time", Crosby said. That was a loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 of the Cup Final as, you guessed it, Williams sealed it with an empty-netter. It's going to be the toughest game of the series. "You are not going to win everyone". They looked exhausted, disinterested, they were flat-footed, they turned the puck over... all of the things that won them the Stanley Cup (and a Game 6 versus the Capitals a year ago) they suddenly quit doing.

While the Capitals sniper has been relatively quiet during these playoffs - five goals and eight points in 12 games - it's not from a lack of effort. The Penguins finished with just 18 over the course of the game, a pair of late goals by Malkin and budding rookie star Jake Guentzel making the final score a bit more respectable but no less decisive.

"Mike, were you concerned when you saw Sid sort of slow to get up a couple times in the first, and was he evaluated for a concussion in the first intermission?" a reporter asked Sullivan.

If Pittsburgh falls, so too does their chance to be the first team in the salary cap era to repeat. [Monday], we weren't able to do any of that.

The series and game will come down to resiliency; which team will put their past behind them and focus on one game.

Wednesday night offers a chance for the bounces to go the other way. And Pittsburgh goes from being on the verge of moving on to the third round to being suddenly confronted with its own postseason mortality, having failed twice now to extinguish the Capitals.

The Washington Capitals have spent the last two games against the Pittsburgh Penguins crawling out from a 3-1 deficit.

"Yeah, we had a good game [Monday]".

The Capitals have gotten back to playing loose, which was the goal after Game 4.

But let's read the NHL's policy a little more. The move looked like a demotion, but Trotz assured the public it was an effort to spread the team's top scorers across three lines, much as the Penguins did last season with Phil Kessel on its third line.

"Players will discuss their experience with the group and share their experience that they think will help the group have success", Sullivan said. "Those are two separate things". But I'd say it's built over the course of the entire year. Every game is always different in a series; there are changes all over the place. "They're playing well, they're putting a lot of pressure on us and we've got to execute better to handle that pressure".

So heads onto ice, bad; heads into boards, acceptable. Wednesday's game will be the 15th Game 7 in Capitals history, and its sixth in the last six years. But I know that when Crosby curled up along the boards, and he waited for Washington's John Carlson and Pittsburgh's Patric Hornqvist to get off him, he first got on all fours, his stick between his legs on the ice. Which is exactly why a dispassionate, unbiased person who is both literally and figuratively removed from the situation is empowered to make those decisions. If Matt Murray were healthy, he would be replacing Fleury for Game 7.

The Penguins are beat up, they're missing their best defenseman, whose absence can no longer be covered up, and they haven't played their game against the Capitals all series.