The Capitals' win streak continued after they declawed the Florida Panthers 4-1 in front of another sell-out crowd at the Phone Booth last night. The Cats came with their game faces on as they are still in the running for a playoff spot. The Capitals didn't exactly give one of their strongest performances against this feisty Florida team, yet came up with the win thanks to another great game from Michal Neuvirth and more third period fun from the goal scorers. Mike Knuble lit the lamp twice for Washington, the gritty fan fave has been unstoppable of late and currently has 18 goals to his credit. Playmaker Nicklas Backstrom also tallied and d-man Jeff Schultz even got into the action with his second goal of the season!
The big story of the night was the knee-on-knee collision between Mike Green and Dmitry Kulikov. Green went down in a heap after the open ice crash and you could hear a pin drop among the sold-out crowd as they waited for him to get back on his feet. He was able to skate off with assistance and the fabulous news for Caps' fans was that his injury status is day-to-day, so the worst case scenario of a devastating knee injury evaded the star defenseman. But the even bigger news making headlines today also revolved around #52. Green was given a three-game suspension for a hit with an elbow against Panthers' forward Michael Frolik. Frolik played the remainder of the game and Green was slapped with a two-minute penalty. HM is in total agreement that the league has to eliminate hits to the head (especially after witnessing the recent Cormier incident in the Q), but think that this is yet another example of the lack of consistency in doling out punishment for major incidents on the part of the league. This season has seen its share of dangerous hits and boarding occurrences, but the punishments have not always fit the crime. Prime example is the lack of any suspension for Colorado's David Koci for an atrocious boarding of the afore mentioned Green, an action which could have had distastrous results. Now I am not saying the Green's hit was not over the edge and even dangerous, but that a three-gamer for a first-offender might be a little excessive. If you haven't seen the TSN Canada version of the hit, you can check it out here:
I'm just saying - you decide for yourself. Capitals Insider has more on the reaction to Green's suspension. HM is sure that Don Cherry will weigh in on this issue as he is spotlighted on this Hockey Day in Canada (and a very happy HDIC to all of our pals up North by the way)!
Now HM attended last night's game as the gracious guest of a business associate whose son is a Panthers' equipment manager. After the game, the Cats' gear guru welcomed his dad and me and we got a first-hand look at how hard these guys work to make sure each players' equipment is gathered and accounted for and then prepared for the charter flight home. HM joked with him that I cannot imagine the responsibility that comes along with managing all that gear as one of my boys actually made it to the rink for a game without his skates. Yes that's right, as I sped the twenty minutes back to my house to retrieve said skates, my head was spinning with my best Linda Blair in The Exorcist imitation. In all seriousness, many thanks to Bob Moody and his son, Chris Moody for a fantastic night of hockey.
My host has spent lots of time with the Panthers group and many of the players came by to say hello including veteran Corey Stillman. It's been said over and over again that hockey players are probably the most "regular folk" among professional athletes and every meeting I've had thus far with NHLers has reinforced that image. Now of course there are some of the wild and crazy youngsters out there (e.g., Patrick Kane), but hey, you only get to be a young, rich and cute hockey star once, right? Speaking of youngsters, the highlight of my evening was meeting David Booth, who I've written about several times and have been pulling for him to get back on the ice. He will is slated to return to action tomorrow against the Islanders and I have never seen a bigger smile on someone's face as he talked about his return to the ice. He is quite a fighter and an all around nice young man - HM is rooting for you #10, welcome back! He shares some of his excitement and a bit about his long road to recovery from his concussion in the clip below:
Back home in snow-covered D.C., the boys will aim to reach their first 10-game win streak since the 1983-1984 season when they take on the Bolts during a matinee game at Verizon Center tomorrow. As you recall, things got a bit chippy to say the least, the last time these two teams met. HM expects another spirited match up as the Lightning is one of eight teams trying to snag one of the last three playoff spots - puck drops at 3 p.m.