The Capitals aren’t thrilled to be without Alex Ovechkin while he serves a three-game suspension for his hit on Zbynek Michalek, but they’re also puzzled as to why the Pittsburgh defenseman did not receive any type of supplementary discipline for his elbow against Matt Hendricks.

Roughly five minutes after Ovechkin’s charge, Michalek elbowed Hendricks in the head. It’s believed that the league chose not to penalize Michalek, who has never been suspended, because his knee collided with the Capitals forward, causing him to lose his balance and lunge forward.

Both hits resulted in contact with the player’s head, though, and given the league’s crackdown on those types of collisions, the lack of consistency in discipline is where the Capitals say the ambiguity in the process lies.

“It looked like an elbow to Hendy’s head,” Jeff Halpern said. “I don’t understand what the difference is, whether it’s a repeat offender, a hit to the head is a hit to the head.”

Said Jason Chimera: “Ovi gets suspended, I feel Michalek should have gotten suspended too. It sends the wrong message.”

While Hendricks declined to elaborate much on the lack of punishment for Michalek, when told that his teammates were surprised by the league’s inaction he responded: “I think I am too, for the most part.”

Haplern went on to say that the videos issued by Brendan Shanahan, the league’s vice president of player safety, aren’t offering enough of an explanation to players. That addressing hits that receive suspensions doesn’t provide a complete picture when the same is not done for plays that don’t — like Michalek’s in this case.

“It doesn’t explain the other ones. You can explain the ones [that garner punishment] and have the reasoning,” Halpern said. “But there’s a lot of other ones that don’t [result in discipline] that you don’t get the explanation for. I don know if it really helps.”

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