Matt Hendricks said his right hand is fine. It was bleeding after his second fight Saturday at the Boston Bruins, but he didn’t appear to have any limitations Sunday at the Washington Capitals’ morning skate.
“Just sore,” he said. “It kind of goes with the territory. I feel good, though. Ready to play.”
Hendricks seems no worse for the wear and tear that was Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Bruins that included him getting into two fights: one against Nathan Horton and another against Adam McQuaid. Boston players explained much of what happened after the game; Hendricks corroborated those stories Sunday.
“I just know that Horton and I seemed to be bumping into each other after every whistle,” Hendricks said. “I don’t know if it was intended by him or intending as part of their game plan but it seemed to happen and that’s part of hockey. That’s part of playing the Boston Bruins in Boston. It’s the way they play and you’ve got to know that it’s coming.”
Horton said he yelled at Hendricks before the faceoff late in the second period. Hendricks said he heard his name being called and dropped the gloves.
But Hendricks was trying to get Horton to fight earlier in the game. When they finally dropped the gloves, it was eight seconds after Brad Marchand fought Mike Ribeiro.
I” had asked Horton a couple of times and we didn’t go and then he gave me the opportunity to go after [our] No. 1 point getter Ribeiro gets goaded into his first NHL fight,” Hendricks said. “So it was a situation where I thought that I had to do it and you live with the repercussions with it.”
Asked if he specifically wanted to fight one of the Bruins’ skill players after Ribeiro was forced out of the game for five minutes, Hendricks said: “No, it wasn’t part of it. Marchand and Ribs matchup pretty well size-wise, not weight-wise but size-wise. And for me, I think Horton wanted to fight.”
What riled Caps defenseman Karl Alzner and other teammates up happened in the third period, when Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton and McQuaid essentially ganged up on Hendricks to get him to fight. Alzner called it “the biggest joked” he’d ever seen.
Hendricks understood what it was about.
“First of all, that’s Thornton’s job. That’s what he does, he gets paid to do that, and that’s what makes him valuable in this league is that he can play minutes but he’s also a heavyweight enforcer so he’s a valuable asset,” he said. “[Horton is] their first line right wing, it didn’t matter what happened there, I ended up getting the better of him in the fight and that’s the price you have to pay in a 4-1 game against them at home.”
As for having two guys challenge him, Hendricks knew it was coming.
“In my opinion at that point in the game I felt ‘OK, this is what I’ve got to do at this point in the game.’ They wanted me to answer the bell for fighting their top-line guy and I think they know that he asked me to go, but against them, that’s what you’ve got to do in those situations,” he said. “So McQuaid came over to give me another option, he knew that I didn’t want to fight Thornton- the guy is far out of my weight class. That’s justice to them.”