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Backstrom Suspended One Game

Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 11:01 AM ET / Features
By John Bishop  - BostonBruins.com
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Backstrom Suspended One Game
BostonBruins.com -- Even before Nicklas Backstrom was suspended, Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter put the blame for Monday night's postgame dust up squarely on the shoulders of the Boston Bruins.

Hunter said Backstrom was only reacting to Bruins players carrying their sticks high.

"Nicky reacted to it," said Hunter to WashingtonCapitals.com.

But the NHL reacted to Backstrom's cross check to Rich Peverley's face and doled out a one game suspension to the star forward - a punishment that certainly flies in the face of own Hunter's assessment of his player's conduct.

"He was trying to protect his face," said Hunter during his Tuesday media availability. "If you watch, the stick was right in his eyes.

"It's a dangerous play on their part."

Hunter believes Backstrom has received a lot of attention from the Bruins.

"If you watch, every scrum Nicky comes out with no helmet on," said the Caps head coach. "He gets blockered to the head by [Tim] Thomas the game before.

"So, he's protecting his head."

Backstrom missed much of this season after sustaining a head injury in January.

"He just came off of 40 games," said Hunter, who repeated a littany of what he saw of questionable plays by the B's. "What did [Milan] Lucic do to him in the scrum? He grabbed his head.

"So, Nicky is protecting himself."

That's not how the NHL saw it.

Brendan Shanahan, NHL Senior Vice President for Player Safety and Hockey Operations ruled that although Peverley had raised his stick in the vicinity of Backstom after exchanging trips with Capitals forward Alexxander Ovechkin, the B's forward was in a defensive position and it was the Backstrom who approached Peverley.

"Backstrom's reaction was excessive and reckless," said Shanahan, who noted that Peverley was not injured and Backstom had no prior history of supplemental discipline.

When he spoke before the NHL ruling, Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien, who previously noted that B's players had taken several high cross checks over the first three games of the series, lauded Peverley's handling of the situation.

"We’re not a team that will go down...and start rolling on the ice for no reason. So, I’m proud of Pev for standing up on his feet, taking the cross-check to the face, and not embellishing," he said. "That’s what I want my team to keep doing.

"The rest – we all have jobs to do and you let the people that are responsible of that to make those kinds of decisions.

"We’re going to keep moving forward and we’re going to stay focused on our series and nothing from the decision is going to detract us from that."

In the meantime, Washington will have to move forward into Game 4 missing one of their best.

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L. Eriksson 75 19 24 1 43
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