July 24, 2014

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom suspended for Game Four

Shortly before 11:00 pm EST, the NHL handed down its ruling on Nicklas Backstrom’s match penalty for cross-checking the Boston Bruins Rich Peverley after the horn in Game Three’s 4-3 loss. The news was not good for the Caps, as NHL Player Safety Vice President Brendan Shanahan announced that Backstrom would be suspended one game for the infraction.

Shanahan called Backstrom’s reaction “excessive and reckless”, but cites Backstrom’s history of no supplemental discipline before handing out judgment.

The announcement hurts a Capitals team that was just getting used to playing with their teammate again after missing 40 games with a concussion. With their backs already against the wall, trailing the Bruins now two games to one, the Caps road just go that much more difficult.

Shanahan is having a rough playoffs. Having failed to issue supplemental discipline to Nashville’s Shea Weber for slamming Henrik Zetterberg’s head into the glass after the horn has opened a Pandora’s box of violence around the NHL, with no one really sure anymore what constitutes a suspendable offense.

Unfortunately for the Caps, if the on-ice official calls for a match penalty, there’s very little chance the league office is going to overrule it. The on-ice official may have bene over-zealous in assessing Backstrom a match penalty for his actions. Honestly, much worse went on during every stoppage in play. But at this point, who knows what the Discipline Czar will decide next.

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Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats and the Caps, and previously wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Capitals coverage on Twitter @CapitalsDSP.

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