Capitals’ Backstrom banned for Game 4 vs. Bruins

Peverley took the hit, Backstrom gets the ban./By S. Bradley

Nice, try Dale Hunter. But this time, NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan saw right through your propaganda.

Shanahan tonight announced a one-game suspension for Washington center Nicklas Backstrom. The star playmaker and overtime hero of Game 2 was assessed a match penalty for cross checking Bruins forward Rich Peverley after the final horn of Boston’s 4-3 Game 3 victory Monday night.

Here’s Shanahan’s explanation:

Earlier today, Hunter was asked about planning for life without Backstrom. But the Capitals head coach, who was also one of the dirtiest players in NHL history with Quebec and Washington, tried to sell a bill of goods that included the notion Backstrom was defending himself.

“No, because I don’t think he’s going to be suspended,” Hunter said. “If you slow it down, frame-by-frame, where was [Peverley]‘s stick? It was up in his face first. If you watch, just go back and re-watch it again — [Peverley's] stick is up in his face and Nicky, because of the stick in his face and the guy put his stick up like that, Nicky reacted to it.

“I think he was trying to protect his face. If you watch it, the stick is right in his eyes. It is a dangerous play on their part. Especially for him, if you notice every scrum Nicky comes out with no helmet on. He gets blockered to the head by [Tim] Thomas in the game before, so he’s protecting his head. He just came off of [missing] 40 games. You have to protect your head. With [Peverley's] stick being in his face like that, it is a dangerous play on his part.”

It should be noted that Hunter referred to Peverley as David Krejci on first reference and then never mentioned Peverley by name. Even Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault knows that if you’re going to make up excuses for your players’ poor behavior, you should at least know all the players’ names.

Anyway, Game 4 is Thursday night and the Capitals will not have their second-line center. This could mean more ice time for Jay Beagle, who has been a thorn in the Bruins’ sides this series, and possibly a return to the lineup of ex-Bruins forward Mike Knuble, who has been scratched for three games so far.

Meanwhile, the Bruins better be on their best behavior because the league will no doubt be looking to even things out, both during and after Game 4. That means no illegal retaliation from Milan Lucic against Karl Alzner and nothing other than hockey from the rest of the roster.

In addition, the Bruins are going to be under intense pressure to get this victory and go up 3-1. The Caps will be looking to “Win One For Nicky” and really have nothing to lose now that they have an excuse this large. The Bruins have to bear down and make sure not to take the Caps lightly because they have a golden opportunity to close out this series early and get some much-needed rest before Round 2.

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