While Dale Hunter was espousing Nicklas Backstrom’s virtues for defending himself on a cross-check to Rich Peverley’s face, the Boston Bruins were again Tuesday calling for NHL discipline after what they thought was a dirty play.
“It was high. He definitely hit him in the face. It’s not the first time this series somebody’s taken a cross-check in the face,” Bruins defenseman Greg Zanon said. “There’s nothing we really can do. It’s up to the league to see what happens.”
Backstrom has a disciplinary hearing with VP of player safety Brendan Shanahan on Tuesday afternoon, a league spokesman confirmed. The match penalty the Washington Capitals center earned with the cross-check carries with it an automatic one-game suspension. Backstrom’s hearing will determine whether the match penalty and suspension are upheld or rescinded, or whether he gets additional punishment.
Bruins coach Claude Julien on Monday night complained that it was the third cross-check to the face by a Caps player this series. Tuesday, his tack didn’t change, though he praised Peverley for not selling the cross-check.
“We’re not a team that will go down, and I’ve said that many times, and start rolling on the ice for no reason. So I’m proud of Pev for standing up on his feet, taking the cross-check to the face, and not embellishing,” Julien said. “And that’s what I want my team to keep doing. The rest? We all have jobs to do and you let the people that are responsible of that to make those kinds of decisions. We’re going to keep moving forward and we’re going to stay focused on our series and nothing from the decision is going to detract us from that.”
But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a major topic of conversation at the Bruins’ media availability at the Ritz Carlton, including taking the Caps’ skill players off their game.
“I think that that’s maybe a little bit of frustration,” center Chris Kelly said of Backstrom’s cross-check. “Peverley’s just making a play and he had four guys kind of on him. I think we’re going to focus on ourselves and playing the style of hockey that’s made us successful in the past. They can worry about themselves.”
Zanon gave Backstrom credit for coming to Alex Ovechkin’s aid after Peverley tripped him up as time expired.
“Things like that happen. Whatever happened down in that corner, I think Peverley trips Ovechkin and Backstrom’s just sticking up for his teammate and got a little high, I guess, on his cross-check,” Zanon said. “Emotions were really involved in that game on both sides.”
Defenseman Andrew Ference admitted not having the best view of the play from the bench, but he could see enough.
“Obviously it was in the face. It doesn’t feel that good, but the part that I like is I’m sure it didn’t feel great for [Peverley] but I think our team takes some pride in not rolling around for five minutes,” Ference said. “It is a tough play, but it also happens in hockey. I like the reaction from [Peverley]. Everyone saw where the stick hits and you see the same play in some other games and it makes me proud as a teammate when your guy doesn’t roll around. It is good for hockey.”