First, Jay Beagle will replace Viktor Kozlov in the lineup today. Kozlov’s groin injury flared up a bit yesterday. Bruce Boudreau said he probably could have played today if there was a morning skate, but he told Kolzov “you’re not winning the scoring title” so the team will be cautious about playing him on back-to-back days after recently missing nine with the injury.
Staffan Kronwall could also be in, because one of the other defensemen is a game-time decision. Jose Theodore will be back in net.
Now for the juicier stuff: Bruce Boudreau responded to some criticism from both Boston coach Claude Julien and Don Cherry today at his pre-game media session.
Boudreau called Cherry “a friend and an icon,” even noting that Cherry is writing the foreward to his upcoming biography with Tim Leone, but said that Cherry was “over the top” with his comments about Alex Ovechkin on Coach’s Corner last night during Hockey Night In Canada.
“I think he was a little over the top on Alex,” Boudreau said. “At first, I thought he was going to criticize Crosby with the first 30 seconds. But then he criticized Alex and I thought they would throw it back to Crosby jumping off the glass the past couple games (NOTE: He definitely did it when he scored the game winner against Philadelphia the day before the Caps game). As much as I really like the guy he was wrong.”
Look, there are a few things that someone like Cherry could criticize Ovechkin for. He does lead with his forearm sometimes when he hits guys, and that forearm can become an elbow if the guys moves at the last second. Ovechkin also doesn’t get back on defense a fair amount of the time.
But going after him for showing emotion after he scores a goal is just silly. No defenseman is going to “cut him in half” for celebrating a goal. Would someone like Chris Pronger take offense to what Alex did in the Penguins game the other day with his shooing motion to Crosby? Maybe, but the goal-scoring celebrations aren’t inciting a line brawl anytime soon.
As for the Canadian kids listening to Cherry, I’ve seen people do the “Ovechkin Leap” into the boards in NHL games, world junior championship games and NCAA games this season. I don’t think it is going away anytime soon.
Boudreau was also surprised at Claude Julien’s reaction after the game yesterday. Julien said the Caps “do a lot of talking” about being in the Bruins’ heads, but he wanted to make it clear they’re not.
“I said totally the opposite of what he said,” Boudreau said. “You guys asked me if this would get in their heads and I said absolutely not because we wouldn’t play them again until May.”
When told some of his players did talk about the psychological advantage, Boudreau responded, “Then [Julien] is too sensitive. I like Claude. I really like Claude. I never even got to take psychology in school, but I was just a little surprised by it.”