EDMONTON, Alberta | Seven straight minor penalties constitutes a parade to the penalty box. But not the kind of parade the Capitals celebrated Thursday night.
Their 2-1 loss – and first of the season – to the Oilers was marked by undisciplined play. Fans seemed irate about the uneven calls, and while players voiced some questions about a few calls, the general feeling was that they did not adjust well enough.
“You have to adjust when you’re out there. You have to know who the ref is, and if they’re calling it loose, OK, but if they’re calling every little thing – it’s up to the players to be able to adjust to it,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “In the rulebook, they’re penalties. Some people call it, some people don’t. You get to know pretty early when they’re calling it who’s going to call what.”
The referees were Stephane Auger and Dan O’Halloran, the latter a very noted, veteran official in the NHL. Karl Alzner, for one, wasn’t about to bash them.
“I’d say most of them were [deserved],” the defenseman said. “We did take penalties, but it would’ve been nice to maybe get a few more opportunities for ourselves than we did. But what can you do?”
The final number was nine penalties for the Caps and six for the Oilers.
“They put their power-play opportunities in, and we didn’t put ours in,” Boudreau pointed out.
Alzner took issue with his holding-the-stick penalty, saying Jordan Eberle had it “not a good position for a stick to be on me.”
Marcus Johansson wasn’t thrilled with the minor called on him for closing his hand on the puck. Replays showed that he did close his glove while batting it out of the air.
“Some of them, yeah. I think some calls, like my call, was a stupid call,” he said. “At least some of us think some calls shouldn’t have been called, either. But it’s his decision and we just didn’t have the bounces or the refs with us today.”
Complaining wasn’t going to help, something perhaps the Caps discovered too late.
“I think we got a little bit too worked up there, yelling and screaming about the calls when there’s nothing you can do about them once they’re called,” Alzner said.
The Caps succeeded in regrouping after a rough second period but ultimately couldn’t close the deal. That third period was impressive, save for the lack of production, but it all came back to penalties.
“You can’t take that many penalties, no matter who you play against,” goaltender Tomas Vokoun said. “Overall, we didn’t play bad game. We just weren’t disciplined enough and it cost us the game at the end.”