Capitals Notebook: Boudreau -- officials need to protect the goaltenders
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The Washington Capitals see an officiating trend emerging in the playoffs, one they say puts them at a competitive disadvantage and endangers goaltender Simeon Varlamov.
General manager George McPhee and coach Bruce Boudreau yesterday voiced concerns that date to what they say was a violent act by New York Rangers forward Sean Avery on Varlamov and include a cross-check by Penguins winger Chris Kunitz and a hit by Penguins center Evgeni Malkinin the teams' ongoing second-round series.
Kunitz was fined for his action against Varlamov. Malkin wasn't penalized Wednesday in the second period of the Penguins' 3-2 overtime win in Game 3, but Varlamov received a slashing penalty on the same play.
"The supervisor in this series is as good as they come. Terry Gregson is terrific," McPhee said. "But if the referees aren't going to listen to him, what good is it? We asked them to protect our goaltender, and they're not.
"Obviously, the message isn't getting through. They're supposed to be protecting the goaltender. He got punched in the head in the first series, cross-checked a couple games ago, Malkin ran over him [Wednesday] night. And he gives him a flick of the stick and he gets a penalty. It's not right. Those aren't slashes. Those aren't things you call in an NHL playoff game."
Varlamov, a Russian rookie who has played just 15 NHL games, nine of them this postseason, has been a shining star for the Capitals, who lead the series, 2-1, going into Game 4 tonight at Mellon Arena.
"There's no protection for the goalies, and I thought that was a big point [for the NHL]," Boudreau said. "We have to reiterate that. The goalies need protection."
In the three games, the Penguins have been penalized 11 times, while Washington has received 19 penalties. In Game 3, Washington players received seven penalties, the Penguins two.
"When one team gets seven power plays and the other gets two, it's hard to win that game," McPhee said. "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."
Asked if there was any further recourse, McPhee said, "No. It's a real hard game to referee. We understand that."
Another Washington concern involves the Mellon Arena ice.
"I thought it was sticky," Boudreau said. "There's a couple arenas in the league that we walk across [to get to the bench]. In Carolina, you've really got to be aware that you don't fall. But here, even when it was fresh it was easy to walk across, so I commented to Dean [Evason, an assistant] that 'this ice is going to be slow.'
"I mean, it wasn't slow to [the Penguins], but it seemed slow to us."
The Capitals did not practice. ... Winger Sergei Fedorov, who took an inadvertent butt-end of Penguins defenseman Hal Gill's stick to his left rib cage and missed a couple shifts in Game 3, said he is fine. ... Defenseman Tom Poti blocked a shot and was limping after the game, but Boudreau said Poti is sore but not injured and that Poti told him yesterday, "It's a good hurt." ... Winger Tomas Fleischmann on back-to-back games tonight and tomorrow in Washington: "It's going to be a huge game. The momentum is going to be there for the next game. If we win, the momentum is going to be on our side." ... Defenseman Brian Pothier on the pratfalls from giving Malkin too much space in Game 3: "When he gets a couple of his shimmy-shake moves going through the neutral zone, that's when he's getting confident and he's feeling good."
First Published May 8, 2009 12:00 am