The Washington Capitals will have to make do without their first-line center Nicklas Backstrom in Game 4 of their first-round series against the Boston Bruins. Late Tuesday night the news broke that Backstrom would receive a one-game suspension that the NHL levied against him.
Backstrom received a match penalty after the final whistle in Monday night’s Game 3 after he cross-checked Rich Peverley in the face. Backstrom was retaliating for a hit that Peverley made on Alex Ovechkin in the game’s final seconds.
NHL senior vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan released a video Tuesday highlighting and explaining the suspension. Shanahan explains that while Peverley’s stick was in Backstrom’s face, Peverley was in a defensive position when Backstrom cross-checked him. He also pointed out that Backstrom’s reaction was, “excessive and reckless.”
Shanahan acknowledged that Peverley was not injured on the play and that Backstrom has no prior history of this kind of behavior. Backstrom has never been suspended or fined in his five seasons in the NHL. Shanahan said that as a group the Department of Player Safety considered his clean record and still decided to suspend him.
Backstrom will now miss Game 4 after registering two points so far in the series. He had the game-winning goal in Game 2 and an assist on one of the Capitals’ goals in their Game 3 loss.
The Capitals released a statement today about the suspension of Backstrom.
“We disagree with the NHL’s decision to suspend Nicklas Backstrom. This has been a competitive and physical series, and we do not understand why a suspension was imposed in this case while other incidents in this series have not been reviewed. Our singular focus now is on Game 4, and we look forward to the energy that our great fans provide.” – Washington Capitals
Backstrom missed 40 games this season after suffering a concussion on January 3 against the Calgary Flames. The Capitals have been complaining all series about the Bruins’ players targeting the head of Backstrom after the whistle has already blown.
The focus is now on the ever important Game 4 that gives the Capitals the ability to tie the series back up at two games apiece. The game is tomorrow night at the Verizon Center at 7:30 on NBC Sports Network. Let’s go Caps! Rock the Red!
Follow Matthew on twitter @Geiser19.