The Washington Post’s Katie Carrera spoke with a few irate Capitals on the heels of Rene Bourque’s elbow to Nicklas Backstrom’s head Tuesday night. The general consensus? Bourque’s punishment didn’t fit the crime — in either penalty minutes served or frontier justice.
Alex Ovechkin: “It was head shot. It was kind of on purpose. I tell the referee, ‘He goes like straight in the face with an elbow. So why give him only two minutes?’”
John Erskine: “If I had got a chance to get on the ice I would have said something to [Bourque]. It’s a tough call, you want to do something but you don’t want to get sucked in and take a penalty because right now every two points is huge for us.””
Erskine’s comments are intriguing. While the Capitals are hardly pacifists — Erskine and Matt Hendricks have eight combined scraps this year — they have gradually removed some of the tough-guy element from their roster. Matt Bradley and DJ King were jettisoned in favor of more versatile skaters while Erskine’s been in and out of the lineup.
An understandable move, but there’s always the Buffalo Sabres Conundrum to consider. Every team knows what Buffalo learned earlier this season: Not sticking up for your stars is equally damaging, if not more, than sticking up for them. Erskine wasn’t able to get after Bourque because he was bolted to the bench — he didn’t play the final 16:28 against Calgary — but you get the sense he was ready to find Bourque had coach Dale Hunter sent him over the boards. (Of note, Hendricks only took three shifts in the third.)
So, the question: Do Erskine’s words compensate for a lack of action? Intentions are great but at the end of the day Bourque didn’t have to answer the bell and the Caps might be without their leading scorer for a while. That’s something veteran winger Mike Knuble was very aware of.
“[Backstrom’s] probably been, with a team that’s been inconsistent he’s been consistent,” Knuble said. “He’s been our most consistent player and plays in any situation and he’s very valuable to us. I don’t know if he’s going to miss time or whatever but it’s a big hole if he does.”
UPDATE: Stephen Whyno of the Washington Times has more angry Caps reactions, including Jay Beagle calling it a cheap shot and ex-Bourque teammate Troy Brouwer saying “he’s [Boruque’s] got that little bit of an attitude to him.”
Larry Robinson has joined the St. Louis Blues.
The Blues made the announcement Thursday, revealing that Robinson has joined the organization as a senior consultant to hockey operations.
Based on the comments of Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, it sounds like Robinson will work closely at times with head coach Mike Yeo. It could also further help the development of an already impressive defenseman in Colton Parayko.
“Bringing someone like Larry in, I just think, helps our hockey operations from top to bottom,” said Armstrong, per the Blues website.
“His ability to talk to Mike Yeo about coaching — that’s one area that we don’t have on our staff is a former head coach. You can think you know what Mike’s going through but I don’t know what Mike’s going through. Larry does. So he’s going to be able to relate to him on a lot of the things that he’s going to go through.
“He’s coming in as a consultant. I can learn a lot from him, our assistant coaches can, Parayko can. There’s not an area of our hockey operations he can’t touch to make us a better group.”
Robinson was most recently the director of player development with the San Jose Sharks, however it was reported in May that he would not return to that organization for this season.
According to reports, there is substantial interest from other teams in Matt Duchene. That said, he remains with the Colorado Avalanche for now and will, it appears, make his preseason debut Thursday against the Dallas Stars.
Earlier this week, Darren Dreger reported on TSN that as many as eight teams have interest in Duchene, with the Senators aggressively pursuing the 26-year-old forward.
According to Mike Chambers of The Denver Post, Duchene will be in the lineup tonight versus the Stars.
Trade speculation has been swirling around Duchene for months now. He reported to training camp last week, and has since said his status with the Avalanche is a “day-by-day” situation.
“I love playing hockey. I want to win,” Duchene told The Denver Post. “That’s the biggest thing on my mind. I’m trying to get better every time I touch the ice right now.”
Tough news for the Montreal Canadiens and prospect defenseman Noah Juulsen on Thursday.
The Habs have announced that the 2015 first-round pick is expected to be sidelined six weeks after suffering a fractured foot on Monday.
The Habs selected Juulsen with the 26th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft following his 52-point regular season with the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League.
This past spring, Juulsen appeared in two playoff games for the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps. He turned 20 years old in April and it seemed like the Habs were going to give him a serious look to make the NHL club out of training camp.
“We like the way he skates and his transition game,” said head coach Claude Julien earlier this week, before the injury was revealed. “He’s going to get a chance to make this team and if he doesn’t he’s not going to be too far away.”
Who says players don’t care about preseason hockey?
Matt Puempel and Nick Lappin are trying to earn spots on their respective clubs, so they know they may have to do the little things others aren’t willing to do to stick around in the NHL.
On Wednesday night, that involved dropping the gloves against each other. These two seemed to be in mid-season form when it came to throwing punches.
Neither player is considered a tough guy. Lappin had 17 penalty minutes in 43 games with the Devils last season, while Puempel has 28 penalty minutes in 79 career NHL games.
Here’s the video footage of the scrap:
By the way, the Rangers won 4-3 in overtime.