In addition to Andrew’s excellent game write-up of the Caps 3-0 shutout of Pittsburgh yesterday (in the first of the city’s doubleheader of losses) , I wanted to add a few quick notes from talking to Nicklas Backstrom and Matt Bradley after the win.
Backstrom was the first guy to make it to Matt Cooke right after the Ovechkin hit, and aimed a left punch at Cooke before the refs stepped in.
“I was just trying to back up my boy there,” Backstrom said. “It wasn’t a nice thing he [Cooke] was doing there…I was just trying to let him know that he can’t do that.”
As we saw yesterday, hockey, even in its current incarnation, is still the Wild West of sports — when a dirty hit only gets you two minutes in the box (like it did for Cooke), you have to police it yourself. Backstrom’s name doesn’t even register in the HockeyFights.com orbit, but several people around the team have observed that Backstrom is a guy who has your back and makes it his business to be there for you. How’s that for top line chemistry ?
Another guy who usually has your back, Matt Bradley, was the one who said something to Cooke after he came out of the box. With the media, however, Bradley was diplomatic enough for the U.N.
“He made his choice, he went to the bench, and that’s fine, but he would have done the same thing the other way around,” Bradley said.
One final note — Backstrom agreed that this was probably the most physical tilt they’ve had with the Pens yet (there was no shortage of blood gushing, though most of it seemed to be coming from the Caps’ bench) but noted that may have partially been a side effect of Pittsburgh having to play without Malkin and Crosby in the lineup, since it forced them to play the puck differently.