The Capitals will be without the services of defenseman John Erskine for the next three games. On Saturday evening, the NHL announced that it was suspending Erskine for three games for a hit the blueliner delivered to the head of Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds in the first period of Friday night’s game between Washington and Philadelphia at Verizon Center.
Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s senior vice president of player safety, http://video.capitals.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=32&id=198371&lang=en announced the suspension and elucidated his reasoning in video form, as he does for all discipline-related suspensions.
Erskine will miss Sunday afternoon’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Verizon Center, Tuesday’s homestand-closing game against Toronto and Thursday’ visit to Pittsburgh. He will be eligible to return to the lineup on Sat. Feb. 9 when Washington hosts the Florida Panthers at Verizon Center.
After missing the first three games of the season as a healthy scratch, Erskine returned to the Washington lineup for a Jan. 25 game against the Devils in New Jersey. He played so well that night that he remained in the lineup since, averaging 19:290 in ice time per game, the highest single-season figure of his 11-year NHL career and his highest figure since 2006-07, the first of his seven seasons in D.C.
Among all Washington defensemen, Erskine ranks fourth in average ice time per game this season. This is the first time Erskine has played five consecutive NHL games since he played nine straight from Nov. 29-Dec. 17, 2011.
Erskine scored his first goal of the season last Sunday in the Caps’ 3-2 win over Buffalo, Washington’s first win of the season.
The 32-year-old native of Kingston, Ont. Has no previous history of fines or suspensions with the NHL.
Washington has a pair of veteran defensemen available to step into Erskine’s skates for the next three games.
Now in his 20th season in the NHL, 38-year-old Roman Hamrlik is the NHL’s leader among active players in games played with 1,382. After playing 68 games with Washington last season, Hamrlik got into the first three games of the 2012-13 season before sitting out the last five as a healthy scratch.
Tom Poti, 35, missed more than two years of action while recovering from a fractured pelvis injury. He played his first NHL game in more than two years in the Caps’ Jan. 19 season opener in Tampa Bay, picking up an assist. Poti played the next two games before sitting out the last five contests alongside Hamrlik.