While Edmonton’s 2-1 victory Thursday night will be remembered as the Capitals’ first loss of the 2011-12 season, it will also stand out for the nine penalties the visitors were whistled for at Rexall Place.
Washington was undisciplined and although there were some questionable calls, neither Coach Bruce Boudreau nor the players blamed the officiating for the defeat and for the most part accepted responsibility for the extended time in the penalty box.
By game’s end, nine different Capitals — Matt Hendricks, Alexander Semin, John Carlson, Roman Hamrlik, Jeff Schultz, Troy Brouwer, Marcus Johansson, Mathieu Perreault and Karl Alzner — had been whistled for an infraction by the officiating tandem of Dan O’Halloran and Stephan Auger.
The Oilers wound up with 11 minutes and 21 seconds on the power play and both of their goals came on the man-advantage. Edmonton was whistled for six penalties.
“You have to adjust when you’re out there,” Boudreau said. “You have to know who the ref is and if they’re calling it loose, okay. But if they’re calling every little thing it’s up to the players to adjust to it. I mean, in the rulebook, they’re penalties. Some people call it, some people don’t. You get to know pretty early when they’re calling it who’s going to call what.”
The penalties forced Washington to skate without offensive threats Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin for long stretches of the second period in particular. At the end of the second stanza, thanks to the lengthy penalty kills, not one of those three players had more than 10 minutes of ice time.
“We take too many penalties. You can see we top lines we didn’t play lots of minutes in the first two [periods],” Ovechkin said. “I just tried to be in the game, you know, if there was whistle I go and try to skate a little bit, but again we have too many penalties. Sometimes it happens in a game.”
That didn’t make certain players any more enthused about the penalties they were called for. Johansson was not happy about being called for closing his hand on the puck — replays showed the second-year center wrapping his hand around the puck as he tried to swat it out of the zone.
Then there was Alzner’s holding-the-stick call, when the defenseman pulled Jordan Eberle’s stick off of himself.
“I don’t want to say anything too mean, but that’s not a good position for a stick to be on me, it doesn’t feel very good, so I’ m not just going to let it happen,” Alzner said. “But it doesn’t really matter.”