During the course of the Capitals’ 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night, Mike Ribeiro was high-sticked twice while taking faceoffs. The veteran center grew so agitated that neither play resulted in a penalty that he eventually earned an unsportsmanlike-conduct minor and a 10-minute misconduct.
At 15 minutes 6 seconds of the first period, with the Capitals on the penalty kill, Ribeiro was high-sticked by Olli Jokinen before the puck was even dropped on the neutral zone draw. The stick blade cut Ribeiro’s right cheek and required five stitches to close.
Then at 8:49 of the third, Jokinen appeared to high-stick Ribeiro again. This time the stick blade hit the Capitals center in the chest.
Ribeiro, 32, was plenty frustrated. He was called for high-sticking on a nearly identical play against Tampa Bay when taking a faceoff against Vincent Lecavalier and wanted to know why there weren’t penalties this time around.
Ribeiro has a history of injury with high-sticks. On Jan. 6, 2010, as a member of the Dallas Stars, he was high-sticked in the throat by then-New York Rangers forward Chris Higgins, causing an injury that required Ribeiro to get a tracheotomy and miss four weeks. (Here’s video of that injury. Not for the squeamish.)
“There’s chirping or asking a question. If I go up and ask, ‘What’s your take on the high-stick on the draw?’ And he doesn’t want to tell me because he has no answer to it, well, then, how come the guy didn’t get a penalty?” Ribeiro said. “There’s no rule saying that you’re not allowed to be low on the draw. But there’s a rule saying if you get high-sticked and you bleed, well the guy has a penalty. Well if you don’t call it… I don’t know, when I got up and I looked around and everyone was just standing there and no one reacted, I was just trying to figure out what happened. When you get cut you’re supposed to get off of the ice and I just took the draw. It was just weird.”
He wasn’t the only one to have a problem with the officials Tuesday night. Fourth-liner Joey Crabb received an abuse-of-officials minor at 15:14 of the third period. It’s listed as a team penalty because Crabb was on the bench when the penalty was called.
“I was just so frustrated the way the game was going. The linesman got in the way of the chip-in and I said something about, ‘Good call, get out of the way next time,’ and they’re trying to crack down on it,” Crabb said. “Pretty soft on the call, I think, but I know they’re trying to crack down on it so I should have known better.”
Ribeiro, who received the unsportsmanlike conduct and 10-minute misconduct with 1:16 to go in the game, had plenty to say about the missed calls and explained how he wanted to get an explanation from the referees about the lack of a call.
“I thought I got high-sticked close to my throat again. I turned around and [the official is] staring at me,” Ribeiro said. “So I’m like, ‘Are you not seeing it or you don’t wanna call it?’ And then he just didn’t answer me. I don’t know.
“You’re not allowed to talk to them. It’s like the first one, I get high-sticked on the draw and there’s no rule saying that you’re not allowed to be lower than three feet or there’s no rule saying you’re not allowed to be low. So I get high-sticked and I go see him between the whistle, I’m like, ‘What’s your take on the high-stick on the draw? The puck’s not even dropped.’ He’s like, ‘Well, I don’t want to talk to you.’ So I’m trying to figure [it] out. I kind of stopped, I looked around, like, ‘No one called it?’ I was like, ‘Okay, are you just allowed high-stick people before the puck’s dropped?’ So I went to ask him, he didn’t answer me and that just got me frustrated a bit to not have an answer. Just tell me. I don’t know, I guess he didn’t know what to do.
“So the second time I got high-sticked close to my throat again I looked around and he’s staring at me. I’m like, ‘Why are you not calling this one?’ Well I guess he wasn’t happy about that. I guess I said stuff that my kids won’t like too much. I just feel like you’re not allowed to talk to them any more about situations that happens in a game. They believe they’re, like, above us or, like, more power, they feel power, I don’t know. I think I need to just stay focused on my game and let them ref the way they want to ref. But when you get high-sticked you like to have an explanation of what happened there.”
More on Capitals vs. Jets:
John Feinstein: A late start, and a slow one
Game summary: Jets 4, Capitals 2