It took just nine seconds into Rene Bourque's first shift Jan. 18 for the Washington Capitals' Matt Hendricks to challenge him to fight. On Jan. 3, then with the Calgary Flames, Bourque put Nicklas Backstrom out of the lineup with a reckless elbow to the head.
That was a way of getting some sort of retribution, but it might not be the end of the whole situation for the Montreal Canadiens forward.
"I don't know. Our guy's still out. I don't think our guys are ever going to forget what happened," Caps forward Brooks Laich said. "I don't know. I don't know if it's over or not. We're going to win a hockey game. That's the main focus. If anything else happens, it happens."
Something very well may have happened Saturday in the Caps-Canadiens matinee had Joel Rechlicz played.
"I heard it was a cheap shot," he said Thursday. "Hopefully I'm in the lineup for that game."
Rechlicz won't be, as the Caps put him on waivers Friday. But the way coach Dale Hunter was talking, the Caps have bigger things to worry about.
"You seen it through the whole league when the same thing happens where it's just that the two points are most important to us and to them," he said.
Rechlicz to Hershey
The idea of putting Rechlicz on waivers is to send him back to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. The 24-year-old enforcer played just two games with the Caps for a total of 4:16.
"It's been good. I've just got to keep working hard," Rechlicz said Friday. "Keep everything simple on the ice and just keep a positive attitude. I'm here to work. Just go down with a positive attitude and hopefully I come right back."
Rechlicz was told he might be back for games next weekend. The Caps only have one game next weekend, at the rough and tough New York Rangers.
Hunter was complimentary of Rechlicz, despite his limited tangible impact.
"He was vocal, and he took the body and on the road there, there was no physicality going on or nothing," the Caps' coach said. "He took care of that, so he was a force out there."
Keith Aucoin isn't a hot-shot prospect. But the 33-year-old is a likely future AHL Hall of Famer because of his potent point production.
Aucoin has 70 in 43 Bears games this season and got the call-up to the Caps to provide some offense in Backstrom's absence.
"He's a centerman, and we need more playmaking centermen, if you wanted to call it that" Hunter said. "With Nicky out, it makes a big hole. So we've got to do it by a combination of a bunch of guys. So that's basically why he was called up. It's an offensive guy in the lineup trying to generate more offense."
Aucoin is having another All-Star season in the AHL, but he's not sure if this is his best.
"It's been pretty good. I think it's tough to say right now," Aucoin said. "We have three, four lines that can go out there and score every night. Me and Chris Bourque have been playing really well together. It makes it a lot easier when you have camaraderie with a guy like that. You can go out there and score."
That's what the Caps need out of Aucoin.
"He's always a fiery player, plays with a lot of passion and plays with an edge," linemate Jeff Halpern said. "We don't expect him to do anything but come in, play his game, play within the system and help us get a win."
Laich: Ovechkin not a dirty player
Alex Ovechkin returns from his three-game suspension Saturday, and he's not sure if his game is going to change as a result. This was his third NHL suspension in seven seasons.
But Laich wants Ovechkin to stay the same.
"Ovi is Ovi. Nature vs. nurture, nature's going to win," Laich said. "He's a competitor. He's a fierce competitor on the ice that guys don't want to play against. You can't take the physical nature out of that guy.
"I don't think Alex is a dirty player. And I don't think Alex thinks he's a dirty player. If it's a blatant run a guy from behind then you might have to curb your game a little bit. But he accelerates to finish a check, and he's a big, physical guy."
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