10:23 p.m. was not a good time for the Washington Capitals on Monday. That’s when the clock hit zero, putting the Caps down 2-1 in their best of seven quarterfinal matchup with the Bruins. But it was also what happened after the whistle that could haunt the team’s postseason chances.

As the final seconds ticked off and the Caps dropped the game 4-3, Boston’s Rich Peverley and Alex Ovechkin got into a scuffle. Coming to the aid of his buddy, Nicklas Backstrom delivered a cross-check up high on the Bruins forward. That’s when the inconsistent officiating of this series — and these playoffs as a whole — once again reared its head. For his infraction — the third called against him in the game — Backstrom was assessed a match penalty.

The video is after the jump.

“I think it’s normal that there’s some intensity and the rivalry is getting better and bigger as we move forward here,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said in his post-game press conference. “You understand that those kind of things are going to happen. The only thing that’s a little disappointing for me is the fact that this is the third time in three games that our player has been cross-checked in the face. We saw the one on [David] Krejci in Game 1 and Ovechkin on [Dennis] Seidenberg in Game 2, and now Backstrom. You hope that those things don’t get out of hand and again, I’m going to say the same thing I said last time, somebody else has to deal with that and not us and as a coach I want to continue to get my team ready for the next game.”

So what does this all mean? Let’s take a look at NHL Rule 21.1:

A match penalty shall be imposed on any player who deliberately attempts to injure or who deliberately injures an opponent in any manner. … In addition to the match penalty, the player shall be automatically suspended from further competition until the Commissioner has ruled on the issue.

Yep, after Shea Weber’s attempted murder of Henrik Zetterberg last week that earned him a mere (for a guy that earns $7.5 million) $2,500 fine, it’s the 24-year-old soft-spoken Swede that could be sitting up in the press box Thursday. And how about what Tim Thomas pulled on Saturday, committing two acts that according to the rulebook should have earned him match (!) penalties.

I think Backstrom’s play was dangerous, no doubt. But was it a deliberate attempt to injure Peverley? I don’t think so. Backstrom is not that kind of player and this was a heat of the moment situation. And that’s what Caps coach Dale Hunter hopes the league will conclude.

“I think the league will review it and rescind it,” he said. “If you see it, it’s not that bad.”

Take heart, Caps fans, it’s all up to Gary Bettman now.

  • Bradley Roth

    Bye Bye Backstrom thanks for the cheap shot.
    Oh and Russian Machine broke in the Olympics real good Canada 7 Russia 3.

  • Rick

    I think it escaped your notice that this is a blog for the Caps, not the Russian NT.

  • Michael01a

    you just spoiled Bruins karma.
    It will be haunting you forever… 😛

  • Expresso

    What an ass

  • SO_CAL_Brat

    Boston Bruins would be the first to know what a “cheap shot” is considering they wrote the handbook. I saw Boston try to shake up Holtby the entire night. Let’s not get into the BS infractions against Backstrom.

    Boston knows it can’t beat the CAPS unless it resorts to “extracurricular nonsense”. It’s not going to work the entire series so be ready. We’re done playing games and that’s scaring the sh*t outta the Bruins. They’re desperate & concerned.

    P.S.  Identity crisis much? A “Boston Fan” rubbing in a Canadian. Thumbs up buddy. Thumbs all the way up.

  • “… the inconsistent officiating of this series — and these playoffs as a whole …”

    Well … that wins the understatement of the year award 😉 

  • Pingback: DMV: Caps Miss Sweet Chance, Lose Game 3 On Home Ice | Mr. Irrelevant, a D.C. Sports Blog by the Brothers Mottram()

  • JTStally

    Ugh, still on the Thomas thing from Game 2, huh?  I don’t see a video montage of all the cross-checks the “soft-spoken Swede” was throwing in Game 3, like you afforded Thomas in a recent blog post.  But, if you put one together, you should add the clip of Backstrom chopping away at Thomas in Game 2, as a little bonus footage.

    Seriously, though?  This isn’t a suspension.  Based on the Weber incident, the league shows an interest in keeping its best players on the ice, and this play was far less outrageous that Weber’s.  I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s the obligatory $2,500 “don’t do it again” fine, but I assume the suspension will be rescinded.

    I said the same thing about your ridiculous Thomas rant: chippy actions like these happen in the playoffs and for the most part, I find them inconsequential.  The postgame broadcast in Boston didn’t even mention this penalty (I didn’t even know about it until this morning), so clearly it’s not something that the Bruins media is hung up on.  Backstrom should be back out there for Game 4, perhaps a little lighter in the pockets.

  •  Minus all the snark, I agree with JTSally.  Chippy play is part and parcel of the playoffs. 

    The problem is that chippy play is being elevated to suspendable offenses, and the truly harmful play is being ignored.  Backstrom should not have engaged in that last little fisticuffs.  BUT is it really the same kind of offense as Asham’s cross check to the throat with pummeling???  It’s like treating a fender kiss with the same blunderbuss used for a head on collision.

  • Peter

    Totally. The Caps should be above the fray. The Bruins are much better at being asshats than the Caps are. The Caps are better at hockey. Stick to hockey.

  • JTStally

    I agree Sonja.  I had feeling Weber would NOT be suspended, but fully thought he SHOULD.  I just see this Backstrom play as one of those “playoff temper” plays that happens a few times a game, but I don’t think it crossed the line that some of the Penguins did on Sunday (or that Weber did).

  • Hockey

    Hockey is meant to be fought out for 60 minutes, but when the buzzer goes, the game is over and you move on.   Pulling a stunt like that, knowing that a penalty can’t hurt you because the game is over is simple classlessness and doesn’t belong in hockey. Maybe if the rules allowed for him to receive a 10 minute misconduct and spend the first 10 minutes of game 4 in the box that would be more fair than a full game suspension.  But there has to be something, and in the rule book, its one game or nothing, so he should get one game.  end of story.

  • Disclaimer: I’m a Bruins fan and a homerish one at that. 

    Backstrom’s cross check was uncalled for and potentially dangerous. Do I think it should be a match penalty? Probably not given what’s going on in the NHL. But you have to ask yourself if that’s the players’ fault or the league’s fault. 

    I’ve thought that Shanahan has been a terrible replacement for Campbell from Day 1. Everyone touted the guy as the second coming and ready to shake things up. In the pre-season he ruled with an iron fist. In the regular season he wavered back and forth. In the post season he’s been terrible. 

    He opened up a can of worms when he didn’t suspend Weber for slamming Zetterberg’s face into the glass (multiple times) but suspended Byron Bitz for a boarding call on Kyle Clifford. 

    If the NHL is going to rule on injury and not on intent (and when I say intent, I mean looking at a play saying “you intended to elbow him in the face” not “you intended to break his neck”) then it will forever be a broken, backwards ass system. 

    To be honest, I was more upset that Alzner didn’t get anything for being the third man in during the Hendricks/Lucic scrum. It was akin to the Carkner/Boyle fight where Carkner punches Boyle (from behind) and Dubinksy jumps in to defend him, then get a game misconduct for being the third man in and is tossed. 

    Alzner had no business grabbing Lucic from behind and should’ve received a penalty. 


  • Goosegoose35

    are you kidding me? you want to see cheap shots look at the penguins, canucks, and canadians . The bruins cross the line from time to time but generally are clean bout it. Have you even watched any other series? BTW the Caps have started all the crap. Nice dives by Backstrom and Semin. I will give you Marchand has been a little bitch and has been diving as well, but I guess you have to when half your team folds like a house of cards. and fianlly. Ovi is the one of the cheapest hitters of all. I love Ovi, I really do but he crosses the line often (to which I have no problem, just don’t bitch that the Bruins are dirty when you have cheap hitters too) That being said at least Ovi will fight unlike that bitch Crosby.

  • Slob

    They are not better at hockey. If they were, they would not be down two games to one.

  • Bradley Roth

     Not going to happen Caps are done like dinner.
    Even 1 game without him Caps finished.
    Thanks Backstrom. lol

  • Adburns96

    First, I really hope I’m wrong…and second, any remaining tinfoil in my possession is currently being used to wrap my sandwich.
    Nick Backstrom is going to be suspended. And it is going to change the face of this series one way or another. Bettman’s Folly begat Campbell’s Catastrophe which will yield, again, to another miSHANAhandling of Justice. First, Weber’s attack on Zetterburg was vicious, borderline criminal:a $2,500 was a gutless embarrassment of a penalty. The Bitz call seems even more, now, like a weak make-up call–toss a grinder/keep the All-Star– message sent. Second, the Pitt/Philly series is becoming a PR nightmare for all but the most frothing Pens/Flyers fans, pardon the redundancy. If the game officials are loathe to toss Malkin or Crosby (or Giroux for that matter) for their antics, I cannot see the League stepping in to do so either–so they will continue to slash, grab shirts, pull hair, etc. Again, the same tactic: toss Asham/Adams and let the stars shine. (Admission: my tune will change ever so slightly if Neal gets tossed, but it will also add even more fuel to my point that Backstrom is going to sit.)
    And now we have a postgame indiscretion from an All-Star. What better time to screw on the iron fist? It would not even surprise me if Shanny’s video cited Backstrom’s 40 plus games missed as prima facie evidence that he should know better than to take a swing at someone’s grill. Add to this mix the fact that this series is one more Lucic crosscheck/Marchand dive away from full ignition, and Shanahan has even more incentive to assert his authority (*resists urge to quote that word*). This said, if Backstrom is in the press box Thursday, I would think (hope?) Hunter wouldn’t go too long/far before he tells the boys to drop their mitts, providing Shanahan with the potential for a busy Friday.
    Here’s hoping to get bombed with comments come Wednesday evening pointing out how wrong I was.

  • not making excuses here, but that was an inordinate amount of 4×4 hockey with some pretty stupid matching minors to the caps (Laich comes to mind), and on the game winning goal drive the bruins were blantantly offsides….  Horrible officiating on both sides.  I agree with Peter.

  • SO_CAL_Brat

     OK OK….calm down. There is no need to insult me here. Hell yes I’ve watched every other series. Not recaps…games.  I’m well aware of what’s going on in those. The Pens/Flyers series is out of control on both sides (not complaining because it’s amazing to watch).

    Obviously we will both see different things through our foggles (Fan Goggles). It’s one thing to put up a fight when frustrated & another to start one. I don’t see the Capitals starting a lot of these. They are more aggressive than usual but that’s what playoff hockey is all about. It’s badass, it is the truest test of sportsmanship & grit and I wouldn’t change anything but the confusing officiating.

    We will always agree on one thing: Marchand = Bitch

  • LionGirl

     You’re right.  You ARE a homer.  Don’t come here to spew your ‘Poor Beleaguered Boston’ rhetoric.   If I use your justification, the Washington has received at least as many or more b*s penalties and worse, seen a lot of blatant non-calls that should have been.  Washington’s problem is they’re stooping to play the Bruins at their own dirty game.  That’s what needs to stop.

  • KwayZeeyT

    Maybe Backstrom should have just grabbed Peverley’s visor and shaken the $h!t outta him, since that seems to be perfectly acceptable. /sarcasm

  • KareeLyn

     Unfortunately it was kind of a stupid thing for Nicky to do and I really hope it doesn’t get blown out of proportion.  It’s very clear that he has been the target of a lot of aggression in the head and I think there’s only so much of that a person (even a sweet, soft-spoken Swedish one) can take.  I wish he wouldn’t have done it, but I also wish that people would get the bullseye off of his head.   Let’s all hope we see him on Thursday!

  • Canes fan

    Hunter says Backstrom’s hit on Peverley “wasn’t that bad”. He is right. If you compare it to Hunter’s hit on Turgeon in the early 1990’s. Hunter got a 21 game suspension. Backstrom will get one game. Hunter is a disgrace and should have been banned from the NHL.

  • Peter

    Yeah, but at least he’s not a Canes fan.

  • Goosegoose35

     I’m not insulting you here. I love Marchand (or as he has been known Marshmont) but yea lately he has been a little bitch and needs to cut that shit out. And yes the officiating has been inconsistent, but no worries the Bruins cannot score on a 5 minute 5 on 3 so your team is fine for any cheap call. We have freaking Rich Peverly as our Point man…nuff said. I am a huge caps fan BTW, just got to root for my home team here. If the Caps win i hope they win it all. I give the DC fans credit, I have been to 3 caps games in DC, and their regular season atmosphere is like a Bruins playoff game every time. Freaking crazy. and I love the National Anthem…with the RED!!!!! and Oh!!!!!! good stuff.

  • SO_CAL_Brat

    The hit was nearly TWENTY years ago. TWENTY. Hunter served his 21 game suspension in addition to a lifetime of harassment over a stupid poor sport split-second decision. 

    He has spent the better half of this season eating crow now that he daily deals with the effect and danger of head shots. He has personally watched how those type of shots can ruin his beloved sport as one of hockey’s greatest (NB19) is one cheap shot away from hanging up the skates forever.

    The hits aren’t even comparable. Point invalid.

  • Right, Boston is so dirty. Boston is so dirty that your boy Alan May put together some shitty video and used Patrice Bergeron as an example of being dirty. Patrice Bergeron! 

    Oh whoops, Ovechkin has done this for 3 games now. Not one penalty call.