PITTSBURGH—Capitals coach Barry Trotz said he was not surprised that the NHL decided against supplemental discipline for defenseman Matt Niskanen, who was ejected Monday night for cross checking Penguins captain Sidney Crosby in the head.
“I thought it was the right decision,” Trotz said Tuesday morning. “I mean, you had two forces, one coming across [and another] coming this way.”
“That’s hockey,” he added. “It’s a hockey play.”
Niskanen received a five minute major and a game misconduct for the controversial cross check at 5:24 of the first period. Crosby did not return to the game, an eventual 3-2 overtime win for the Caps.
There had been no update on Crosby’s status by the time Trotz spoke at the Caps’ media availability. (The team did not practice after going to extra time for the sixth time in nine postseason games.)
Asked if he thought the series might turn nastier because of the Crosby injury, Trotz said he did not know what to expect between a couple of teams that already have a deep dislike for one another.
“Hopefully Sid’s fine,” Trotz said. “I saw some tweets saying that he looked like he was fine when he was walking out last night. I expect him back in the series. He’s a great player in this league. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. They won’t announce anything today I’m sure.”
Trotz was also asked how the teams’ fan bases can see the same hit so differently.
“Because you’re a fan,” Trotz said. “You have your side. It’s like a car accident. I mean, you have your side how it happened, and the other person will have his side. It’s perspective.”
Trotz continued: “That’s why we have a player safety [department]. We have actual players who have played the game, not people who haven’t played the game and don’t know the situation and how you would react.”
Although Crosby’s status remains unknown, the Caps know this much: They’ll have their most important defenseman on the ice for Wednesday’s pivotal Game 4.
And Trotz couldn’t be happier about that development.
“He’s a calming presence,” Trotz said of Niskanen. “He plays the game the right way. He makes a lot of good decisions. He’s just a solid [player]. He’s probably not exceptional at anything, but he’s very good at everything.”
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