Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals in National Hockey League playoffs Game 7

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In his National Hockey League mailbag post earlier this morning, our Dave Lozo commented on how quickly Crosby returned from a concussion.

Despite his previous concussion, and despite looking dazed after the fall, the NHL's concussion "spotters" - people in NY who watch all games and have the authority to remove a player from action to be evaluated for a concussion - did not remove Crosby from the game.

Washington Capitals center Lars Eller (20), of Denmark, battles for the puck with Toronto Maple Leafs center Leo Komarov (47), of Russian Federation, during the second period of Game 5 in an NHL Stanley Cup hockey first-round playoff series, Friday, April 21, 2017, in Washington.

Washington's bounce-back came after a disheartening 3-2 loss to the Pens in Game 4 in Pittsburgh a week ago.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley was ruled out for Game 6 against the Washington Capitals on Monday night because of a lower-body injury.

The last time the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals squared off in a Game 7, it was in 2009, and the win spring-boarded the Penguins to a Stanley Cup championship.

It feels like the NHL's concussion spotters were invented for moments just like this, so it's no wonder people are asking why Crosby is still playing in the game. Crosby has had four documented concussions. Their last Game 7 victory at home came in the first round in 2009 with Boudreau behind the bench when Sergei Fedorov scored the victor to knock off the Rangers. He missed Game 4 with a concussion. It's the result of a study on our actual experiences over a number of years. Concussions and their long-term implications are among the hottest-button issues in sports. There's also some confusion over what happened because Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Crosby was never tested for a concussion, while the center himself said he passed concussion protocol. "Those are two different things".

"The medical staff and [NHL's concussion] spotters are responsible for identifying players that go through the protocol", Sullivan said. He reported no symptoms. But that's exactly why the National Hockey League has instituted "independent" concussion spotters who have the power to order that a player be examined if they see a potential brain injury. The protocol has to be interpreted literally to mandate a removal. Pittsburgh had trouble executing even the simplest of plays.

The fourth is a player exhibiting a "blank or vacant look".

And, the final sign: "Slow to get up or clutches his head". "Ice" as compared to "boards" is in there for a reason.

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In a race for the puck in front of Braden Holtby, Crosby got swept up in front of John Carlson and Patric Hornqvist. "He probably gets angry when I talk about him". That's a blink of the eye in your day.

The statement is startling to anyone with even a passing knowledge of concussions, which can arise from any impact and get easier to acquire the more frequent they occur - particularly troubling with Crosby, who's had a career marred by concussion after concussion.

"Exceptions:" the policy continues.

Crosby told the NHL Network he was checked.

He also took exception to spotters not being able to remove a player from action on a play that includes their head hitting the boards. "Ice" has been found to be a predictor of concussions - "boards" has not been". "And so you shouldn't restrict your spotters".

This place, now called PPG Paints Arena, fell silent for long stretches Monday night, and look who hit the mute button with authority.

But there's a flaw here, at least one. As a player who is playing through injury and giving (presumably) everything he has on the ice to win a game for his team and city, how must it feel to see fans leaving in what could be the last home game of the season, or for a few, the last game in a Penguin uniform? .

But there is little doubt which of the three events is the most important on the collective psychic of the Washington sports fan, which has watched the Capitals fail time and again in the postseason in the Alex Ovechkin Era. The impact could be on Crosby's future - and not on the ice.

Oh, how the lineups have changed since then.

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