Washington Lobbying May Have Paid Off As Power Plays Help Capitals Even Series with Bruins

2,348

Washington Lobbying May Have Paid Off As Power Plays Help Capitals Even Series with BruinsThe Washington Capitals didn't secure their win until Braden Holtby squeezed one final shot in his glove as time expired in Game 4 Thursday night at the Verizon Center.

But the Capitals helped lay the groundwork for the series-evening 2-1 victory throughout the two days between Games 3 and 4 in Washington.

After all, what better place than the nation's capital to do a little lobbying?

Capitals coach Dale Hunter may have less than a year of experience behind an NHL bench, but he worked the officials like an expert. Hunter spent much of the two days leading up to Game 4 complaining about a variety of issues the Capitals had with how the first three games were called.

Hunter and the organization were not happy with the one-game suspension that Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom received for a match penalty after he cross-checked Rich Peverley in the face at the end of Game 3, especially since the Caps felt Backstrom, who missed 40 games this season with a concussion, had been targeted by the Bruins all series long.

"They were after the whistle and before the puck was dropped. They were doing stuff off the draw, like [Milan] Lucic going after Nicky's head," Hunter told ESPNBoston.com in Washington on Wednesday. "We've got to play through it and let the refs do their job. We just have to play."

Oh, but Hunter also made sure to note that the refs, or at least the linesmen, weren't doing their jobs very well. He complained that the Bruins should have been whistled for offsides before Zdeno Chara's game-winning goal with 1:53 to play on Monday.

"It was definitely offside," Hunter told reporters. "It was a bad call. It should have been called. It's important to get the calls right. Every little decision on the ice is important."

On Thursday, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis got into the act on his blog.

"We can't let the officials play a role in our game planning – we need to remain disciplined and remember that the defending Stanley Cup champs will always get the benefit of the doubt," Leonsis wrote. "We need to rise above the noise and focus on signal; play tight defense – capitalize on Boston’s mistakes – score when we get a power play; continue to rely on strong play in net."

Of course, Leonsis ignores the fact that Boston was penalized more than all but two teams in the league during the regular season, their average of 13.4 PIMs a game almost identical to the 13.6 they average last season before winning the Cup. Or the fact that while Lucic, Brad Marchand and Andrew Ference were all suspended during the season, no one was ever suspended for any offenses against a Bruin until Backstrom's one-game ban. That was despite Nathan Horton being lost for the year on a questionable hit to the head by Philadelphia's Tom Sestito, Peverley being sidelined six weeks after a knee-on-knee hit by Montreal's Hal Gill and Ference getting blindsided by serial offender Raffi Torres in Phoenix.

Still, the lobbying may have had an effect on Thursday, as Washington got the first three power-play chances of the game. The second proved a key turning point as Boston had dominated play until that point, but Washington snatched the momentum with five shots during the penalty and continued to pressure the Bruins at even strength.

The Capitals then scored the game-winner on their third power-play late in the second period when Alexander Semin scored after Patrice Bergeron was sent to the box for a hooking call that was marginal at best.

The Bruins didn't get their first power-play chance until midway through the third, and that proved to be their only opportunity of the night. Not that it would have made much of a difference, as the Bruins are now 0 for 12 on the power play in the series.

The Bruins will need to find a way to fix that power play. They also need to get on the power play and stay off the penalty kill. Because despite what Leonsis might think, the Stanley Cup champs don't always get the benefit of the doubt, especially not when they're going up against powerful Washington lobbyists.

Have a question for Douglas Flynn? Send it to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

© 2015 New England Sports Network

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 242,870 other followers