It was Nicklas Backstrom who was assessed a match penalty in Game 3 Monday and subsequently suspended by the NHL for one game. But Washington Capitals forward Jason Chimera on Wednesday hearkened back to Game 2 to reference Tim Thomas‘ blocker to Backstrom’s head in calling for that to be a match penalty.
“I don’t read the rulebook every night. It’s not like it’s my Bible. But it’s certainly there,” Chimera said. “It says right there. If you use your blocker as a weapon, it’s a match penalty. That’s just cut and dry.”
Chimera knows his Bible, err, NHL rulebook. Rule 51.3 states: “If, in the judgment of the Referee, a goalkeeper uses his blocking glove to punch an opponent in the head or face in an attempt to or to deliberately injure an opponent, a match penalty must be assessed.”
It’s rarely, if ever, called, and the gray area comes with officials determining deliberate intent to injure. But that didn’t stop Chimera from sounding off about everything from Thomas and Milan Lucic targeting Backstrom’s head to Brad Marchand diving and the Caps’ team toughness.
Chimera wondered how a referee could call Backstrom for a match penalty from the red line, and though he didn’t defend his teammate’s cross-check to the face, he said he understood the frustration because opponents have gone after him.
“You’ve seen it since he’s come back. He’s been targeted at the head a lot of times, and I think you come out of a scrum with your helmet off every time – Lucic sucker-punched him a couple times, and Thomas blockered him right in the head,” Chimera said. “You’re going to get a little bit defensive. [Rich] Peverley had his stick up a bit and I think he was trying to defend himself.
“No way do I condone cross-checking someone in the face. He shouldn’t have done that, and I think he knows that himself. But you continually get cross-checked, get punched in the head, get blockered in the head, and you’ve got to protect yourself.”
Chimera agreed with coach Dale Hunter’s suggestion that the Bruins are specifically trying to target Backstrom’s head.
“If you get a second concussion, you’re out for any length of time. Who knows how long? It might end his career, so he doesn’t want to get that,” he said. “Guys have been taking liberties with his head, and I don’t know what; you’ve got to watch for it. I think the refs watch for it, but I think it happens every scrum. I think someone’s at his head.”
Between and after the whistles, Boston ramped up its physical play in Game 3. Chimera, who said before the series that the Caps could handle that kind of style, didn’t back down from that assessment Wednesday.
“We’re not a [wimpy] team, or however you want to call it,” Chimera said. “We’ve got guys that can drop the gloves and are not scared to drop the gloves. It’s not that factor. We don’t want to lose guys for five minutes in the box, or for any length of time. Guys can play the game, too. We don’t want to get caught up in that. We don’t need to prove we’re tough to anybody.”
On Tuesday, Bruins coach Claude Julien praised Peverley for not selling Backstrom’s cross-check to the face.
“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,” Julien said. “So I’m proud of Pev for standing up on his feet, taking the cross-check to the face, and not embellishing. And that’s what I want my team to keep doing.”
While discussing the Bruins and the need for discipline, Chimera insinuated the Marchand is guilty of diving.
“We did some stupid stuff last game that you can’t do. I mean, we can’t take stupid penalties. Mine was a stupid penalty. You can’t do that,” he said. “No matter how much Marchand’s diving and stuff like that, is embellishing a bit, but you can’t do stuff like that because it’s going to be called.”