Warren Foegele is treating it as just another game to be won. The same for Andrei Svechnikov.
The Carolina Hurricanes will go into Washington’s Capital One Arena on Saturday to play the Capitals, looking to start the new season with back-to-back wins, albeit with a backdrop of animosity and possible retaliation by the Caps that might be directed at Foegele.
It was Foegele whose slight crosscheck sent the Caps’ T.J. Oshie tumbling into the boards in Game 4 of their Stanley Cup playoffs series in April. Caps captain Alex Ovechkin called it a “dirty hit” while Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said Foegele “barely hit him.” But Oshie, one of the Caps’ best forwards, broke his collarbone on the play and was lost for the remainder of the series as the Canes won in seven games.
Could some retribution from the Caps be coming Saturday, either from Oshie or, say, Caps tough guy Tom Wilson?
“I’m just going out there, work hard,” Foegele said Friday. “We’re tying to get the win and that’s my prime focus right now.”
Wilson, a bruiser at 6-4 and 220 pounds, loudly made his feelings known Sunday at PNC Arena as the Canes and Caps played their final preseason exhibition game. While Oshie also was in the game, it was Wilson who skated over and shouted at the Canes bench and in Foegele’s direction, causing Brind’Amour to bluntly tell Wilson to skate away from the bench.
Caps coach Todd Reirden wasn’t happy with an opposing coach talking to one of his players and said so after the game.
“That’s kind of hilarious to me,” Brind’Amour said Friday. “I’ve always said if you’ve got an issue I’m 100 feet away. Come down and we can talk it out.
“I think that’s what sometimes happens. There’s two sides to every story. Of course you’re going to take your player’s side of things. Let the players play. If you’ve got an issue with anything I’m doing, I’m happy to discuss it.”
Brind’Amour said he had not spoken to Foegele, who had four goals and was a series-long pest against the Caps, about his approach to Saturday’s game, the Caps’ home opener.
“I don’t think I need to,” Brind’Amour said. “I think he’s got to play his game. ... To me it should be a non-issue. He’s got to go out and play and do what he does. If other stuff happens we’ll deal with it but he can’t be worrying about other things. He needs to worry about his game.”
Foe Svechnikov, it will be the first time on the ice with Ovechkin since Game 3 of the playoff series. In was in that game that Ovechkin and Svechnikov dropped the gloves for a Russian vs Russian fight that was one-sided, Ovechkin knocking Svechnikov to the ice with a big right hand.
Svechnikov, who suffered a concussion, did not return to the Canes’ lineup until the third game of the second-round series against the New York Islanders. But no hard feelings, Svechnikov said Friday. Nothing that needs to be renewed or resolved Saturday.
“It’s just another game for me, another day,” Svechnikov said. “That’s all.”
Svechnikov, like Foegele, is more intent on following up a 4-3 shootout win Thursday over the Montreal Canadiens, in the Canes’ opener, with a first road victory of the season.
“It’s something I was waiting for all summer,” Svechnikov said of the opener. “Winning the first game is huge. We have so much energy in the locker room right now. We want to keep going with that.”
That’s Brind’Amour’s focus: improve on the play in the opener, try to get a second win, not worry about any potential extracurricular things that may or may not happen.
“I expect a good hockey game,” Brind’Amour said. “Every game we play against these guys is a tough game. There’s a lot of emotion in this. I think with it being their home opener it will be a real hard-fought game, like they all are.”