For a fairly even Game 3 between the Capitals and Rangers, much of the talk afterward centered on the large differential in penalties, with Washington players whistled for eight minors compared to New York’s four.
The Capitals were largely critical of their own self control in the 3-2 loss, and said that across the league, it appears as though some of the stick infractions and slight interference or holding plays that may have gotten by in previous playoffs are now regularly called.
“A lot of them, obviously, we were guilty,” Matt Hendricks said. We’ve “just gotta really watch our sticks there. They’re calling them a little tight now in the playoffs, as everyone’s heard around the league we’ve just got to be a little more disciplined.”
Washington’s frequent trips to the box resulted in 10 minutes and 33 seconds of power-play time for the Rangers, who also benefited from 1:34 with two separate five-on-threes.
After the game, Coach Bruce Boudreau said if the Rangers were going to be antagonistic the Capitals needed to make sure they remained calm. During the game, though, he voiced his complaint about the officiating to Darren Pang during NBC’s broadcast.
“Well, we gotta stay out of the penalty box,” Boudreau told Pang, “but I mean, they’re pretty ticky-tacky little calls out there for a playoff game.”
Nicklas Backstrom didn’t like the way the penalties fell, either.
“Obviously it’s disappointing,” he said of the calls. “I don’t know; some of those calls wasn’t a penalty, I think. That’s what happens in the playoffs, and you just have to get ready for the next game.”
More problematic than simply the effort required to kill multiple penalties in succession the way the Capitals did in the second period was how it disrupted any type of flow that they might have had offensively. For much of the game, Washington appeared unable to find its rhythm in the Rangers’ zone.
Part of that could be attributed to the time playing shorthanded by players also relied upon for their offense, like Backstrom and Mike Knuble, but also to how the penalties kept Alex Ovechkin on the bench for stretches of time.
“It is kind of hard,” Ovechkin said of trying to establish a flow. “We take so many penalties in the neutral zone. I think we have to realize we can’t do it. Just get forget it and get ready for the next game.”