WASHINGTON — Shortly after the Capitals’ dramatic 3-2 win over Chicago at the 2015 Winter Classic, the question was posed to ‘Hawks captain Jonathan Toews:
What did you think of your hooking penalty on Karl Alzner — with less than two minutes remaining — that led to Troy Brouwer’s game-winning goal?
Most were keen to hear the answer. Because this was the penalty:
And this was Toews’ reaction skating off:
“I don’t know how much that play deserved a call,” Toews said. “Or, how much it had to do with maybe us getting a few more opportunities on the power play previously in the game.
“I don’t think given the circumstances that that situation should’ve been called, but that’s just my opinion.”
Toews, of course, is referring to a string of calls that went against Washington; prior to his hooking minor, the Caps were whistled for seven penalties to Chicago’s three, including a stint midway through the second period in which Tom Wilson and John Carlson were sent to the sin bin just 29 seconds apart. (Chicago failed to capitalize on the 5-on-3 man advantage.)
Hockey games, as you may have heard, often tend to “balance out” with regards to penalties. In that vein, it was interesting to hear how the recipient of Toews’ hook, Alzner, responded when asked if he felt the refs were looking to give the Caps a power play.
“It runs through your head. [But] I don’t really think at any point in the game the refs are looking to give an easy one to a team,” Alzner explained. “If you look at it really closely, a stick on the hands is a stick on the hands.
“Sometimes they get it, sometimes they don’t.”
Alzner’s running mate on defense, Matt Niskanen, also touched on the notion.
“They kind of evened it up there with the Toews penalty,” he said. “Sure enough, we get the winner.”
As for the coach on the losing end, Chicago’s Joel Quenneville wasn’t biting. The veteran bench boss offered up a pretty basic reply about Toews’ penalty, and didn’t entertain the notion of a make-up call.
“We had a power play before that, so I think both teams had their turn,” Quenneville said. “They cashed in.”