Sunday’s Capitals-Hurricanes tilt was the final preseason game for both teams, although you would have a tough time telling the game was meaningless. In front of a full house (tickets were free as part of “Canes Carnival”) the two teams seemed to pick up right where they left off last postseason.
Sunday’s final preseason game had plenty of hard hits, some questionable, a few were seemingly cheap in nature (a cheap shot on Mike Sgarbossa by Hurricanes’ Brock McGinn).
The Capitals signed forward Garnet Hathaway to be a physical, penalty-killing presence in their bottom-six and in the team’s final preseason tilt, he showed just what he can bring to the lineup. After dishing out a big hit earlier in the period on Carolina forward Brian Gibbons, Carolina defenseman Roland McKeown took exception, dropping the mitts with Hathaway, who won the fisticuffs quite decidedly.
👊 HATHAWAY 👊 pic.twitter.com/FnfnUWaaIN
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) September 29, 2019
Things heated up even more late in the second period when Caps right wing Tom Wilson got into a heated shoving match with some Carolina skaters in front of the Hurricanes’ bench. Wilson was also chirping heavily and after the game implied that one of the coaches (possibly Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour) behind the bench was yelling at him, something often looked down upon in hockey.
The video below does indeed appear to show Brind’Amour yell in Wilson’s direction:
During a post-game interview, Wilson commented on the scrum:
“I was pretty calm until some words came from their bench and it wasn’t the players so we’ll leave it at that. He’s clearly an emotional guy but I don’t think, you ask anyone around the league, coaches chirping players is appropriate.”
Capitals bench boss Todd Reirden had a harsher review of the incident when speaking to the media after the game:
“That is something that I strongly, strongly disagree with is a coaching talking to a player from the other team and I had some comments for their bench as I walked off between periods. You don’t get a chance to play anymore when you are a coach so you shouldn’t be talking to someone who is playing and to me, that is off-limits and that is something I have always believed as a player, as a coach. No coaches should be yelling at players from teams because you have no chance to go out and do anything about it and hockey is a special game and in respect to the battle and the compete and enthusiasm and all the passion that is out there, but it is for the players and when the coaches get involved, to me that is wrong”
Perhaps the most notable incident outside the Wilson-‘Canes scrum came earlier in the second frame, when Hurricanes forward Brock McGinn delivered an upward hit to Capitals center Mike Sgarbossa, who immediately fell to the ice. The two teams came together following the scrum. Sgarbossa got up, albeit a bit shaken up and continued to play. McGinn was given a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, but the hit possibly set the precedent for the rest of the period and possibly the game.
The Capitals and Hurricanes were once division rivals in the now-defunct Southeast Division and are currently divisional opponents in the Metropolitan Division. Last spring’s playoff series has brewed a noticeable rivalry between the two teams. If their preseason contest is anything to go by, the regular season series between the two should be filled with flying sparks and entertaining hockey.
By Jon Sorensen