John Erskine is one player who has voiced his approval of the defensive system Coach Dale Hunter is working to institute with the Capitals.
Less than six minutes into the first period in the Capitals’ 2-1 loss to Penguins on Thursday night, John Erskine dropped the gloves and won a fight against Arron Asham.
Erskine said he was only trying to get the Capitals going just after Craig Adams scored to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead, but he also happened to be fighting the player who knocked out Jay Beagle back on Oct. 13. Beagle has missed 21 games since suffering a concussion in the fight with Asham and there was speculation if any of the Capitals might challenge the noted tough guy to a bout.
“There’s a lot of pride in the room there,” Coach Dale Hunter said of the fight. “He was sticking up for his teammate and he did a great job.”
In addition to the fight, Erskine had a rather solid all-around game. Granted, he was on the ice and was one of two Capitals (Marcus Johansson was the other) who failed to prevent Chris Kunitz from entering the zone and creating the play that led to the eventual game-winning goal, but Erskine is someone who appears suited to succeed with Hunter’s system.
Erskine played 13:19 and was credited with three hits and one blocked shot. He also did a strong job of guarding talented Evgeni Malkin, who despite not having a point may have been the best player on the ice in the contest.
With 4:50 remaining in the first period, Erskine poke-checked Malkin as he barreled down the right wing. The defenseman then finished a hard check against the Pittsburgh center, sending him into the corner boards.
“I knew he was going to do a little dangle and go left to right,” Erskine said. “I just kind of let him come into me and got lucky and got the puck.”
Check out the clip of Erskine’s poke check and hit on Malkin below.