Wednesday, April 18, 2012

When Backstrom Gets Suspended and The Officiating Continues to Suck The Gloves Come Off *Warning Strong Language*

Allow me to start off with a giant FUCK YOU to Brendan Shanahan and Gary Bettman.  The NHL decided to uphold the one game suspension that accompanied Nick Backstrom's match penalty at the end of Game 3 of the Caps/Bruins.

In the video statement that Shanahan released, around 11:15pm Tuesday night (really you wait till that late? Avoiding all day scrutiny you jackass?), Shanny states that he took into consideration the fact that Peverley wasn't injured and Backstrom had no prior history of discipline. This is the same reason he did not suspend Shea Weber who at the end of Game 1 of the Predators/Redwings punched the head of Pavel Datsyuk into the glass and then grabbed it and slammed it twice more into the glass. Weber received a fine for his actions, Shanahan received a lot of criticism. In Backstrom's case Shanahan also says that Peverley did raise his stick toward Backstrom's face but that the Backstrom was the aggressor and at fault.

I've watched the video of the hit many times and Peverley trips Ovechkin and Backstrom comes in for a high know a hockey play...hits Peverley in the shoulder and it rides up into his face. Suspendable? Perhaps! Fine worthy? Definitely.  (For a great take on the play look up former Caps player Alan May from his appearance on CSN Sports Night with Chick Hernandez)

Let's take a moment though and look at what how Peverley's stick was at Backstrom's face. Did Shanahan forget that Backstrom just returned from missing 40 games due to a concussion? You know the Bruins haven't forgotten that. If you watch the series they've targeted his head many times and rarely drawn a penalty. I mean he got clotheslined in Game 3 which drew one but he's also been hit by, at the least, Lucic, Bergeron, Marchand and Thomas all in the head. On multiple occassions, including Game 3, Lucic has made it a point to grab Backstrom by the head and rip his helmet off and follow it up with a punch. In the Game 3 incident Lucic got a roughing call on the play...but Backstrom got penalized too even though he didn't do anything..and even if he did its not unusal when officials let it slide. In Game 2 they locked him up at the end of the 2nd period and then grabbed him by his face mask. Late in the 3rd period of Game 2 Bruins goalie Tim Thomas hit him in the face with his blocker and that was followed up with a cross-check from another Bruin, and a third grabbing Backstrom from behind, around the head again, and tackling to the ice while hitting and shoving on him. NONE of those earned penalties nor did any earn a suspension. So even what if Backstrom was reckless at the end of Game 3 after putting up with that shit the first three games he didn't know what Peverley's intentions were. Add to it that in Game 2 Thomas kicks Troy Brouwer, that warrants a match penalty, and not only does it go uncalled the NHL doesn't review and fine or suspend Thomas nor any other Bruins player for any of the shit they've done to Backstrom or any other Capitals player.

There have been a lot of head shots that have gone uncalled in the series on both sides. Then you have Lucic taking down Brooks Laich before the face-off in Game 3. Instead of calling Lucic for a penalty they decided Laich needed to come off too. I believe both received unsportsmanlike I guess being thrown to the ice is a penalty now...God the Caps are screwed if that's the case. Or how about when Chara tackled Laich, behind the net, next to the ref, and nothing was called. Chara laid on top of him on the ice and was hitting him and wouldn't get off and allow him to get back into the play (interference much) and nothing was called. So where is the punishment of the refs?  Twice this post-season the refs have missed an off-sides that lead to a goal, one of which lead to the game winning goal for the Bruins in Game 3...the call was missed by the same official that missed the one in Game 1 of the Penguins/Flyers series. Where the fuck is the fine or suspension of that ref?  Or what about the goal waved off in last night Predators/Redwings game? The puck was in the net and the ref blew his whistle and signaled no goal because he didn't think it went in. Why was he not behind the net? Why are they blowing the whistle so quickly now but at the end of the season the whistle didn't blow on two goals the Sabres scored when they played Toronto and Washington? Why are refs not punished when they continue to miss obvious calls game after game and let series get out of hand. Where is the spineless weasel Gary Bettman in all of this?

Also on the flip side in the Penguins/Flyers series James Neal, who has a previous history with the league, was suspended one game for multiple hits, one of which he left his feet. Yes that is a one game suspension, for two hits, for a guy with a prior history ...the same fucking punishment given to Backstrom. Let that sync in.  Of course if you listen to the pundits like EJ Hradek who tweeted that "having Dale Hunter support you can't help your cause #PierreTurgeon." That doesn't fucking matter asshole.

Of course if you listen to the Bruins and their fans the Caps have been the only ones that have done wrong in this series. The Caps have taken at least one shot at the head of a Bruins player in every game of the know compared to the eight that Bruins have done every game, many of which I've documented in previous posts. You'd think that a team such as the Bruins, who saw teammate Marc Savard have his career ended due to a concussion on an illegal hit by the Penguins' Matt Cooke, would have a little compassion and not target Backstrom's head. Nope! They're as classless as I expected them to be. I get trying to win at all costs but where is the line that shouldn't be crossed?

Shanahan is trying to get the players to respect one another and show that certain types of plays won't be tolerated. Apparently grabbing a guy's head and slamming it into the boards will be allowed but other plays that occur hundreds of times a week will get you punished. I'm not sure where the line is then because I consider Weber's actions much worse than Backstrom did and even Neal...and I HATE the Penguins. This really intrigues me to see what kind of hammer will be dropped on Raffi Torres who hit Marian Hossa late, after he had moved the puck, and left his feet to do so. Torres has a history and anything less than the remainder of the playoffs and part of next season will be deemed light.

For now Caps fans are livid at the double standard in this series. The Bruins target heads and connect every time. Game 4 is a HUGE game for the Caps and it just became that much more difficult. Down 2 games to 1 the Caps will now play without their top center and arguably their best and most important player.  The Bruins did their job, they got into the heads of the Caps players, caused them to lose their composure and got one of their main players removed from a key game. If the Caps win Game 4 it will definitely ease the sting from the suspension. It will also send the series back to Boston without really any momentum. While the Caps would have the advantage from winning the last game Boston would have home-ice and crowd support which would neutralize the Caps momentum. Then again maybe the return of Backstrom would give the Caps the edge.

Regardless injustice was served to Backstrom, Caps fans, and the NHL Playoffs.

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