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Posted at 8:42 AM ET, 02/17/2011

Matt Hendricks, Bruce Boudreau react to Sutton's hit and John Erskine's defense of a teammate

By Katie Carrera

In a scary moment with a little over three minutes remaining in the second period of the Capitals' 7-6 win over the Ducks Wednesday night at Honda Center, Anaheim's Andy Sutton hit Matt Hendricks from behind into the boards. Hendricks' went head first into the boards and fell to the ice but was able to skate off under his own power and did return to the game in the third period.

But it won't be surprising if this hit at least gets looked at by league officials as Hendricks' back was completely turned to Sutton. John Erskine definitely didn't approve of the check on his teammate and immediately challenged Sutton to a fight, which is also included in the video at the top of this post. Sutton was given a two minute penalty for boarding and five for fighting while Erskine earned five for fighting, two for instigating and an automatic 10-minute misconduct that goes along with the instigator penalty.

"I knew someone was behind me but 250 pounds -- big boy," Hendricks said after the game and he was asked if he thought Sutton should have been penalized more. "I don't know, felt like it that's for sure."

Hendricks also thanked Erskine in his post-game interviews for sticking up for him and Boudreau called it a turning point in the contest as the hit and fight occurred with the Ducks owning a 5-4 lead.

"It was from behind, they missed it," Boudreau said. "What can you say? I'm sure the league will look at it. At no time did Matt turn either way. His numbers were right there and he hit him from behind head first into the boards. We'll see what they say."

By Katie Carrera  | February 17, 2011; 8:42 AM ET
Categories:  Anaheim Ducks, John Erskine, Matt Hendricks  
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Next: Numbers alone show Capitals' void at second-line center

Comments

2 refs and they missed it. absolutely horrible!!! Erskine, you rock!

Posted by: blushfilms | February 17, 2011 8:49 AM | Report abuse

The NHL will say absolutly nothing about the hit.

Hades, Hendricks and Boudreau may end up being suspended and fined for the whole thing...

Posted by: CapsNut | February 17, 2011 8:54 AM | Report abuse

I normally don't complain about officiating, but that was a dirty play and should have been 5 minutes for sure.

Well done Erskine. Way to jump in there and take care of business.

On to San Jose. Two more points please.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 17, 2011 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Erskine may not be the best defenseman in the world, but he has the kind of heart and soul you need on a hockey team!
Yes the game was an odd affair, however the best thing about last night: The Caps looked like they really wanted to play and really wanted to win! That deserves a smiley puck right there. If only that desire and fire would continue....

Posted by: kcbrichmond | February 17, 2011 9:18 AM | Report abuse

This team was not good with the old school play defense mentality. They have themselves firmly planted in 6th place in the East. If anyone believes, or believed, for a second, that the first 60 games indicated this team would go far in the playoffs then they were kidding themselves. This team is built to play offense...unleash the team. I will take the Caps of the previous three seasons over this iteration every, single day, and twice on Sunday. Defense was not the problem in the Habs' series last years. That series was a massive failure because the team couldn't score. They lost the last three games 2-1, 4-1, 2-1. If that team gives up 8 goals over three games they should have won two. They didn't score, plain-and-simple.

This plan, whoever came up with it, is a loser from the get-go. If they were losing games 7-5, 5-0, 6-4, we might need to consider tightening up a bit but even with that, I wouldn't worry. Play offense, tip the ice.

The most damning stats for the year are these: the Caps are still #9 in GD for the year (down from #1 last year) but the goals per game in which the Caps play has fallen to 28th of 30 teams this year. What does that tell us? They are playing a game where they aren't tilting the ice and simply gumming up center ice to appease the hockey throwbacks who seriously believe the only way to win is to play games like they did in 1960.

Does the team need a second-line center? Yes. Close that case. Other than that? This team, under this style, is 9th in goals against and 3rd on the PK. Exactly what everyone wanted last year. "Play defense, kill penalties, walk uphill to school both ways and pay a nickel for the moving picture show."

This team isn't a defensively-focused team even though we see they can do that for 58 miserable games.

The best chance they have, and have always had, it to open up the ice, skate and attack. Period. Otherwise, go out and roll over 18 players on the roster and get a bunch of Predators and Wild players. Clearly, you can only win with defense.

I'd rather die with the quality of the offense, and 7-6 last night, then watch a bunch of guys trying to do things they aren't designed to do and lose game 1-0 and 2-1.

Rant done.

Posted by: saintex | February 17, 2011 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Three cheers for Erskine. Bruce shortened his bench and stayed with a four man D at the end. Erskine never returned to the ice after his penalties were up late in the third. Carly, Alzner, Hannan and Schultz shut down the Ducks after the Semin hat trick goal. Good coaching and good D play was there at the end when it was needed.

Posted by: dull | February 17, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Curious: Do you think waiting until the last minute before the trade deadline is advantageous to the buying team or the selling team? I thought last year GMGM probably lost out on the D he wanted and made a play for Corvo at the last second.

Posted by: kcbrichmond | February 17, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Curious: Do you think waiting until the last minute before the trade deadline is advantageous to the buying team or the selling team? I thought last year GMGM probably lost out on the D he wanted and made a play for Corvo at the last second.

Posted by: kcbrichmond

We shouldn't wait. Dallas lost Richards, now they will be looking for a center. Pitt as well.

Too many buyers, too few sellers. My thinking is sooner is better than later.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 17, 2011 9:40 AM | Report abuse

So will Sutton's blind side hit be like Cooke's knee on knee, not be seen for what it is and go un punished by the league ?

Posted by: bqts | February 17, 2011 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm very worried about the goaltending. Neuvirth has been shaky of late. Getting a veteran back-up is not out of the question.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 17, 2011 9:58 AM | Report abuse

The most ridiculous part of the whole play was that Ryan Getzlaf (and the Anaheim crowd) complained when Sutton got 7 minutes, 5 of which were for the fighting major. He was lucky he didn't get 5 for boarding, and knowing Colin Campbell, he probably won't get fined or suspended either...
At least Erskine got his "pound of flesh", as Joe Beninati put it. Or from the look of Sutton's eye, more like an ounce.

Posted by: Sportaholic | February 17, 2011 10:00 AM | Report abuse

If Caps open wide their offense every time a team puts a good goalie on IR and then barely win against an AHL level goalie, then the Cup is within the Caps' reach.

Or if Hiller is in net, the Caps get embarrassed 6-2 or something along those lines. This should have been another nail in BB's coaching coffin, but he got lucky. Does it sound like his team played his defense first system or played their own game of pond hockey, hmmmm

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | February 17, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I think the Caps need to figure out if this is the year to push all in. While the Caps aren't exactly world beaters right now, I think the East is wide open as every team has its flaws, especially when you consider that Pittsburgh will at least be without Malkin and possibly Crosby as well for the playoffs. I like the Caps chances against just about everyone in the East except possibly for Philly.

Posted by: cainoo7x | February 17, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Dirty hit. Go get Vokoun, Phillips, and Weis.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | February 17, 2011 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I can't believe the Caps beat a back-up goalie. Halek was a back-up.

Last night they played the style of hockey that gives them the best chance to win. Doesn't mean they'll win the Cup but it gives them the best chance.

Posted by: saintex | February 17, 2011 10:16 AM | Report abuse

that's why the lumberjack is the type of guy you need on this team....as for the trade deadline, I think our D is fine (i'm going to choose to ignore last night's game haha) and goaltending is fine, but we do need a center other than matty p, who would not last in a tough playoff series

I vote for TJ Oshie

Posted by: _stevo | February 17, 2011 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Last night's game was like one of my favorite movies.

"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."

The offense, the officiating and the defense/goaltending.

Only God knows what to expect from this team tonight. At least I get to watch normal time and rock the white to a live game. We'll be having FISH, which is perfect for a game against the SHARKS.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 17, 2011 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I had an amusing morning by going back and reading all the CI posts during the open thread of last night's game. Almost as much fun as being there! (albeit with a slightly drunk crowd---tmac, loosen up, pal!)

Wish I could stay up for tonight's game, but I'll trust tominsocal1 to do the heavy lifting on upholding the white wine tradition for road games.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | February 17, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

@ If Caps open wide their offense every time a team puts a good goalie on IR and then barely win against an AHL level goalie, then the Cup is within the Caps' reach.

Or if Hiller is in net, the Caps get embarrassed 6-2 or something along those lines. This should have been another nail in BB's coaching coffin, but he got lucky. Does it sound like his team played his defense first system or played their own game of pond hockey, hmmmm

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | February 17, 2011 10:03 AM

You can say the same about our goalies last night. If they had played to a NHL level we would have won 7-2.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | February 17, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

@saintex

Thank you for your insightful post. It was the first one that I've seen in weeks that truly hits the nail on the head. You can play all the defense you want but if your team is truly built for offense you're not going anywhere.

I totally agree with you regarding last year's playoff series and defense isn't going to solve that. Besides all great defensive teams have exceptional veteran goaltending. In order to win low scoring games you need a goalie who can make that one game winning stop. We just ain't got that yet with our two talented youngsters...last night's game was won in spite of our goalies.

The Devils were one of the great defensive teams of the past decade..how many times was Marty Brodeur pulled during a game over that time period. How many game saving stops did he make. Great defense...great goaltending...boring hockey. I'd rather take last year's Caps team any day of the week.

Posted by: bondtrader | February 17, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

@Tom, Given recent history, I think the Caps are more likely to be eaten as opposed to the eaters. They will be like that Auzzie aboline driver torn apart by two great whites.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | February 17, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Last night was at least fun again. Looked like they were having fun too.

I have been killing these guys lately, Semin especially. It was nice to put it aside for a night. It would be even better to put it away for another one too.

Hejduk and Weiss are the guys I want.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 17, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

@underpants

Last night I wouldnt have cared if they lost that game 7-6. They were all skating and playing harder than they have been recently. Thankfully Anaheim's backup goalie is horrid.

A bunch of fluky goals against our goalies last night. Hopefully they get back to playing D tonight, realizing that they can still score goals. I'd like to see a 3-1 win tonight. Just come out and play hard again tonight is all I ask.

Posted by: ThePat | February 17, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Biggest development was that our top players Ovie, Backstrom, and Semin were on their games and scoring. Semin needed a game like this to get back on track and his skating looked much better than the two home games. I think the goaltending was shaky by both of our young goalies, but a big part of it was allowing Getzlaff to park himself in front of the net. The Caps should have cleared him out of the crease.

It was also good to see the buys actually enjoying playing and being rewarded for it. Something tells me this will carryover to the LA game tonight although we'll be going against a real goalie who won't give up any week goals.

Posted by: wizfan89 | February 17, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Sure looked like Coach BB went back to coaching what he knows, offense. Looked like the guys were 'turned loose' and told they could ahead and do what THEY know, offense. Caps need wins, so go ahead and get the goals; so what if it's 7-6 o 5-4, a win is a win.

Now...the unknown. Can McPhee get the missing defensive pieces by the trading deadline?

Posted by: scmonty1 | February 17, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Something tells me this will carryover to the LA game tonight ...
Posted by: wizfan89 | February 17, 2011
----------------

Caps play San Jose Sharks tonight.

Posted by: Dalliquippa | February 17, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

@wizfan - yes, they should've cleared him out of the crease and the Poles should've cleared the Germans out of Poland. The problem is they couldn't and we can't; guy's too friggin' big and physics won't allow it. Getzlaf's one weakness is speed and quickness and the way to foil that line is to hold the puck by moving it quickly and using speed to make them chase. Once they establish control with their size and skill they're going to get chances. Great game to watch and a lot of drama because of that, actually...cheers

Posted by: RedLitYogi | February 17, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse

The NHL needs to get rid of the instigator penalty. You want to get rid of hits-from-behind and this chickensh*t play? THAT is your answer. NO MORE INSTIGATOR PENALTIES. Erskine did what was right, and the NHL should realize that.

Posted by: ASchumacher | February 17, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Need another Hannan type D-man and experienced goalie...then unleash the fury.

Posted by: JunkGoal | February 17, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

saintex all I have to say about your rant is AMEN!!!!!! Come out guns a blazin put them away early and dont let up!!!! Yes we get it the caps can play old fasion defensive hockey but that doesnt help you when in the "NEW" nhl era were you must score more then one goal a game to win on a regular bases.

Posted by: lildavey51785 | February 17, 2011 5:44 PM | Report abuse

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