Oates: Mike Weber’s dangerous hit on Nicklas Backstrom ‘should have been a penalty’

January 29

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

BUFFALO – The Capitals managed to come away with a win against the Sabres Tuesday night despite giving up the lead three different times before Mike Green’s game winner in overtime.

More to come on the victory, both the goals that fueled the win and the defensive lapses that threatened it, in Wednesday’s Five Thoughts. But first a look at an unnecessary high hit from Buffalo defenseman Mike Weber on Nicklas Backstrom that came in the final minute of regulation.

Backstrom is in the neutral zone and circles back toward the Capitals’ bench for a line change when Weber sticks his right elbow out and clips the center in the head. It’s a dangerous hit under any circumstances and also eerily familiar to when Rene Bourque elbowed Backstrom back in January 2012 – a play that sidelined Washington’s top center for 40 games with a concussion.

Backstrom took one more shift in the game, in overtime, and spoke with reporters afterward. The 26-year-old pivot is one of the more soft-spoken players on the team, but when he’s upset it comes across rather clearly and that was the case in the visitors’ dressing room at First Niagara Arena.

“I was going for a change, that’s the only thing I know,” Backstrom said. “You saw the hit yourself, make your own judgment if it belongs in this league or not.”

Weber wasn’t penalized on the play, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t have been one.

“The one on Backy at the end should be a penalty for sure,” Coach Adam Oates said. “It was a cheap shot kind of by the benches — that should have been a penalty for sure.”

Early in the second period, Weber did essentially the exact same thing to Marcus Johansson and received an interference penalty. As the Capitals’ forward cut across in front of the net Weber sent his shoulder and elbow into Johansson’s head. Johansson, who had a cut on the bridge of his nose, dropped to the ice and was tended to by the team’s athletic trainers but ultimately didn’t miss any time.

While it’s difficult to gauge what will or won’t garner supplemental discipline for the league it wouldn’t be surprising if Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s vice president of player safety, took a look at Weber’s hit on Backstrom.

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Katie Carrera · January 28

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