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Capitals release statement disagreeing with Nicklas Backstrom suspension 04.18.12 at 1:30 pm ET
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Nicklas Backstrom

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Capitals released the following statement Wednesday on the suspension of Nicklas Backstrom. The center was suspended for Game 4 after his cross-check to Rich Peverley‘s face at the end of Game 3.

“We disagree with the NHL’s decision to suspend Nicklas Backstrom. This has been a competitive and physical series, and we do not understand why a suspension was imposed in this case while other incidents in this series have not been reviewed. Our singular focus is on Game 4, and we look forward to the energy that our great fans provide.”

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Nicklas Backstrom, Rich Peverley,
Bruins keep new lines as they prepare for Game 4 at 1:24 pm ET
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ARLINGTON, Va. — It appears the Bruins will stick with their newly tweaked lines, as the team took the ice for practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex with Patrice Bergeron between Milan Lucic and Rich Peverley, with David Krejci centering Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin. Here are the lines:

Milan Lucic – Patrice Bergeron – Rich Peverley
Brad Marchand – David Krejci – Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot – Chris Kelly – Brian Rolston
Daniel Paille – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara – Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference – Johnny Boychuk
Greg Zanon – Joe Corvo

Mike Mottau and Jordan Caron appear to remain the healthy scratches. Game 4 will be played Thursday at Verizon Center. The B’s lead the series, 2-1.

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Nicklas Backstrom suspended for Game 4 04.17.12 at 11:13 pm ET
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Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom was suspended one game for cross-checking Bruins forward Rich Peverley in Monday’s Game 3, the NHL announced Tuesday. The incident occurred at 20:00 of the third period, and Backstrom was assessed a match penalty for attempt to injure.

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Nicklas Backstrom, Rich Peverley,
Dale Hunter thinks Bruins are targeting Nicklas Backstrom’s head at 1:32 pm ET
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WASHINGTON — Capitals coach Dale Hunter thinks the Bruins are targeting Nicklas Backstrom‘s head. That’s a big accusation, especially given Hunter’s track record as a player.

Backstrom, of course, missed 40 games this season due to a concussion, so the suggestion that the B’s are going after his head is pretty heavy.

“Every scrum, Nicky comes out with no helmet on, he gets blockered to the head by [Tim] Thomas the game before. He’s protecting his head,” Hunter told reporters Tuesday. “He just came out for 40 games. You have to protect your head. With his stick being in his face like that, it was a dangerous play on his part.”’

Backstrom has a hearing with the league on Wednesday for his cross-check to the face of Rich Peverley at the end of Game 3. Hunter said he doesn’t think Backstrom will be suspended because Peverley’s stick was “up in his face first.”

“He’s got to protect himself,” Hunter said of Backstrom. “If you get a second concussion, you’re out a long time. If it wasn’t there, if a stick wasn’t in his face, Nicky Backstrom’s not that kind of player. He doesn’t just cross-check somebody in the face. He’s not like that. Because of the stick was there, he protected himself.”

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Dale Hunter, Nicklas Backstrom, Rich Peverley
Update: Nicklas Backstrom reportedly has hearing scheduled for Tuesday at 12:56 pm ET
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WASHINGTON — According to a tweet from TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Capitals have been informed that center Nicklas Backstrom will have a hearing with the NHL Tuesday at 3:30 over his cross-check to the face of Rich Peverley in Monday’s game.

After the final seconds ticked off the clock in Boston’s 4-3 victory over the Capitals in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Backstrom cross-checked Peverley in the face and was given a match penalty, which carries with it an automatic suspension pending review of the league.

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Nicklas Backstrom,
Are expectations high enough for Tyler Seguin? at 12:10 pm ET
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Tyler Seguin has struggled so far this postseason. (AP)

WASHINGTON — Last year, the first round was a time for Tyler Seguin apologists to bash Claude Julien for not putting him in the lineup.

This year, the game sheet says that Seguin is in the lineup, but little else has.

Seguin, who is still just 20 years of age, has struggled to produce thus far in the postseason after leading the B’s with 29 goals and 67 points. He hasn’t been the only Bruins star forward to start the playoffs quietly, but after a dominant regular season, expectations to continue that means more pressure when the points aren’t coming.

While Seguin was very good in the beginning of the Eastern Conference finals (his Game 3 performance, though it featured no points, was perhaps the most complete game as a rookie), it isn’t a complete shock that he’s failed to match his regular-season success early on in the playoffs. He’s getting the minutes as a top-six forward, but two of the areas in which he isn’t particularly strong — battling for pucks and play in his own end — are ones that are often exploited in the postseason.

Julien was asked at Tuesday’s media availability what the team needs to do to get their young scorer going.

“I think we’ve got to, kind of, in a way leave him alone,” Julien said. “When I say leave him alone, we’re helping him through it, but to put too much pressure on a young player like that, I don’t think is the right approach, for me anyway.

“You’ve got to guide him along and you know he’s going to find his game. He’s not playing badly. But again, there’s a lot of expectations on some of these young players and sometimes it is maybe not always fair. And that’s why you’ve got guys like [Brian] Rolston and [Chris] Kelly and those kind of guys producing for us, because they’re veterans and they’ve been through these situations before.”

To be fair to Seguin, he isn’t the only big name forward that needs to get going offensively for the B’s. Milan Lucic still doesn’t have a point, though he had a much better game on Monday. David Krejci, who led the NHL with 12 goals and 23 points last postseason, also does not have a point through the first three games.

The top two lines still have not scored a goal this postseason. Though Rich Peverley scored in the second period Monday, it came on 4-on-4 while he was on the ice with Kelly. The Bruins’ bottom-six forwards have scored four of the team’s six goals this postseason, a sign that the B’s need more from their top two lines. That means that the pressure is on their leading scorer from the regular season. Julien doesn’t think that pressure’s fair.

“Tyler last year was in and out of the lineup during the playoffs so for us to expect that he’s just going to take over because he led our team in scoring, to me it’s not reality,” Julien said. “He’s going to find his way because he’s a smart player, he’s a good player, and we’re going to allow him the time to do that without putting undue pressure on him.”

That doesn’t exactly sound like the biggest vote of confidence from Julien. The team should expect Seguin to take over games. He’s one of the most talented players in the league, even if he doesn’t play as physical a game as is required in the postseason. Seguin can dominate games, as the Bruins have seen before. They don’t need to make excuses for him, they just need him to start producing.

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Claude Julien, Tyler Seguin,
Milan Lucic questions Karl Alzner’s toughness after crybaby gesture 04.16.12 at 11:21 pm ET
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WASHINGTON — Milan Lucic has been called a lot of things before, but Monday brought an accusation with which he feels unfamiliar.

With the Bruins on the power play late in the third period of Game 3 against the Capitals, Lucic was cross-checked by Washington defenseman Dennis Wideman. That led to Lucic scrapping with forward Matt Hendricks before defenseman Karl Alzner jumped in to take on Lucic. After the scrum was broken up by officials, Alzner made a crying gesture at Lucic.

“Well, there’s a lot of [proof] on my side to show that I’m not a crybaby,” Lucic said after the game. “That’s a lot coming from a guy I think who’s got two roughing penalties in three years, so there you go.

Asked whether he felt Alzner was the third man in, an offense that is punishable by a game misconduct, Lucic grinned and chose his words carefully before answering.

“Yup.”

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Karl Alzner, Milan Lucic,
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