Capitals forward Matt Hendricks figured he’d have to answer for teammate John Erskine’s elbow to the head of Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds on Friday night. Flyers pest Zac Rinaldo doesn’t usually let such slights go unanswered and he had just hopped the boards for a faceoff.
Rinaldo asked Hendricks if he wanted to go and – while it wasn’t exactly the right time for a fight in a scoreless game in the first period at Verizon Center – he obliged. Unfortunately, Steve Barton, the linesman double-pumped before dropping the puck on the faceoff.
Seeing players jostling, Hendricks and Rinaldo began throwing punches. It was only after Hendricks was back in the locker room during intermission that he learned both he and Rinaldo had earned game misconduct penalties, too. They were done for the night. Washington coach Adam Oates said Friday that both men had been “tricked in a sense.”
“Oh yeah there was some tomfoolery in that one, without a doubt,” Hendricks said Saturday morning. “We had all the expectations that the puck was dropped.”
It wasn’t exactly a great trade for the Caps. Hendricks plays a bigger role than Rinaldo, after all, and playing for the second night in a row and fifth time in eight days, Washington didn’t really need to lose a forward. But Hendricks saw some negatives to declining the fight and letting the issue fester.
“I felt maybe it was a good time just to nip it in the bud right away and get it over with so we could get back to playing hockey,” Hendricks said. “Because I knew they would start running around and maybe cheap shot some of our guys.”
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