Capitals center Mike Ribeiro is quickly learning that having a short fuse is no longer tolerated in the new NHL.
In Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders Ribeiro was slapped with a high-sticking penalty and when he reacted angrily he was handed his third unsportsmanlike penalty of the season.
“We’re frustrated,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said before Sunday’s game against the Rangers. “[Matt Hendricks] gets hauled down and then Mike gets kind of a ticky-tack foul, which was a penalty, it was.
“But after what we just witnessed it’s tough. It’s very difficult. Like I said yesterday, you can’t do that.”
There is a bigger issue here. The NHL has clearly taken measures to quiet the swearing that is taking place on the ice, especially at the referees. Ribeiro has voiced his frustration with the officials this season, saying his reputation has made him a marked man and has resulted in more trips to the sin bin.
“They don’t like the guys swearing anymore, which of course I understand,” Oates said. “Except when you’ve been doing it your whole life how do you expect that to change in the heat of battle? I think that’s really tough.”
Joahnsson in, Erskine out? Forward Marcus Johansson [apparent concussion] is expected to make his return to the lineup today, but defenseman John Erskine [upper body] will be a game-time decision.
Johansson has not played since Feb. 7 in Pittsburgh. He had just one goal in his first nine games with the Capitals after netting a career high 14 goals and 46 points last season.
Erskine appeared to injure his hand or wrist in the opening minutes of the loss on Long Island and did not return. If he cannot play, look for Jeff Schultz to take is place on the second defense pairing with John Carlson, and Tom Poti to return to the lineup on the third pairing with Steve Oleksy.
“We don’t want to ask Jeff to be something he’s not,” Oates said. “If he gets more minutes, that’s his job.”
No Hammer: After playing limited minutes in back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday, Roman Hamrlik will not be in the lineup Sunday for the Rangers.
“He’s not in shape,” Tortorella said. “This will be our third game in less than four days and we need to try to help him in terms of conditioning and then we’ll go from there.”
Hamrlik was claimed by the Rangers on Wednesday and played 15:48 in a 2-1 win over the Islanders the following night. On Friday against the Senators, he took just 11 shifts and logged just 7:29 of ice time, none in the final period.
As for those he left behind in D.C., Hamrlik seemed to be well-liked. Teammate Troy Brouwer, who was critical of Hamrlik's comments during the NHL lockout, passed along good wishes for the 38-year-old defenseman.
“That was completely involved in what was going on at the time,” Brouwer said. “I have no ill feelings toward Hammer himself. In fact, I’m actually happy he’s gone to a place where he’s able to play. It would be nice for him to get an opportunity to be able to play for a Stanley Cup, whether it’s here or in New York.
Another former Capital, center Jeff Halpern, also made his return to Washington. He has played in all 23 games for the Rangers, averaging 9:36 of ice time. He has one assist, is a minus-4 and has won 56.3 percent of his faceoffs.