Friday, May 08, 2009

Penalties, Quotes And Death Threats, Oh My!

The Pittsburgh Penguins have had the luxury of having 17 power play opportunities against the Capitals through three games. The Caps have only had nine. Bruce Boudreau made his displeasure known about how game three was officiated.

"As far as penalties go, I hope I never hear them complain about penalties again, picks, and everything else," Boudreau told reporters following the game. "I think we might have deserved the penalties, but they sure as hell deserved a few more than they got."

He got some back up today from his boss, GM George McPhee.

"I agree with Bruce," McPhee addressed the media. "One team gets seven power plays and the other team gets two. It's hard to win that game. Your defense is tired, your role players are tired from killing penalties all night and your top players don't get on the ice as much as they'd like to."

When McPhee decides he is going to go in front of the cameras and reporters to talk, the media pays close attention to what he is say because it rarely happens. Which means what ever he has brought up to the league's supervisors is probably falling on deaf ears.

"The supervisor in this series is as good as they come," McPhee said. "Terry Gregson is terrific. But if the referees aren't going to listen to them, what good is it? We asked them to protect our goaltender, and they're not."

McPhee is referring to the obvious call to take out rookie goaltender Semyon Varlamov. With the slash to the neck in game two and the bowling over of Varly by Evgeni Malkin in game three, these obvious attempts to take out the goaltender are some how not seen by the zebras.

"They just don't protect this goaltender," McPhee continued. "He got punched in the head in the first series [against New York Ranger Sean Avery] and cross-checked a couple of games ago. Malkin ran over him last night, and [Varly] gives them a flick of the stick and we get a penalty. It's not right. Those aren't slashes. Those aren't things you call in NHL playoff games."

"We talked to the supervisors last series about protecting the goalie and Avery punched Varlamov in the face," Boudreau said. "We talked after Game 2 about [Chris] Kunitz cross checking Varly to the face. Yesterday, Malkin runs into the goalie with no purpose; just comes in from the corner and barrels right into him. There is no protection of the goalies and I thought that was a big point. We have to reiterate that. The goalies need protection and when you retaliate from something like that - and it was a flick of the stick, it wasn't even a slash that we get called for. So, I mean, the 17-9 should be at least equal at this stage."

If protecting the goalie wasn't bad enough, some teenager in Chambersburg Pennsylvania put out a death threat for Alex Ovechkin on a message board. Ah, to be young and stupid. Much like the Kunitz cross check on Varlamov that the league just looked the other way and did not suspend him, no immediate charges were filed against the 17 year old. The kid has some issues to work through.

So while the Caps have to avoid death threats and an officiating crew that could care less about keeping it level here are a couple of quotes on game four, which will be played tonight.

"I feel like we've out-chanced them over the three games," Sidney Crosby told reporters. "It doesn't matter, because we're down 2-1. But the belief in what we need to do is there and we're seeing some good results. We're confident that if we play this way, we're going to give ourselves a good chance."

"We can't play like that [in game three]," Ovechkin said. "It's not our game. We take too many penalties and we can't take too many penalties, especially in the playoffs. In the offensive zone we have to play better. The defensive zone, we have to play better. It's in all aspects."

"We're up 2-1," Boudreau said of the series. "They outplayed us for sure, but I'd much rather be where I am right now than where they are."

When asked about how the Caps can stop Malkin in game four, Mike Green offered his thoughts: "We let him skate too much in the neutral zone and create plays that in the first two games we didn't let him do. If we eliminate those things, eliminate him, we should be fine."

"There was definitely more open ice for Malkin out there to roam around and skate," Dave Steckel added. "I thought they did a very good job closing gaps on Ovi, but it's easier when you control the puck in our own end all game."

A recall could be likely for the Capitals since a few forwards are a bit banged up and the Caps will be playing in back to back games tonight and Saturday night. Neither McPhee or Boudreau could confirm or deny that will happen. One concern on defense would be Tom Poti, who looked gassed in game 3. This might be a chance to see what Karl Alzner can bring to the series.

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