With the New York Rangers season on the line Thursday in Game 4 against the Boston Bruins, former Capitals defenseman Roman Hamrlik was in the New York lineup and the team’s second highest paid player, Brad Richards, was not.
Raise your hand if you saw that coming before the Stanley Cup Playoffs began.
The Rangers went to on beat the Bruins 4-3 in overtime, cutting Boston’s series lead to 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Hamrlik had a delay of game penalty on his first shift of the first period for shooting the puck over the glass but eventually settled down in a limited role. Hamrlik saw 10:55 worth of ice-time while skating primarily with another former Caps defenseman in Steve Eminger.
Hamrlik drew a sweater with injuries sidelining fellow blueliners Marc Staal and Anton Stralman. Game 4 marked the first time that Hamrlik was in John Tortorella’s lineup since April 1.
The 39-year-old was claimed off waivers from the Capitals on March 6, but appeared in just 12 regular-season games with New York. He was then a healthy scratch for New York’s entire first-round series against Washington and for the first three games of the Rangers’ second-round tilt against Boston.
Hamrlik is in the final year of a two-year, $7 million deal he signed with Washington in July 2011.
Meanwhile, 2004 Conn Smythe Trophy winner and proven playoff performer Brad Richards was a healthy scratch in Game 4 Thursday. It marked the first time in Richards’ NHL career that the 33-year-old has been a healthy scratch.
Richards is the Rangers’ second highest paid player with an annual salary cap hit of $6.67 million, but the biggest free agent from the class of 2011 has been a colossal disappointment this postseason with just one goal and a minus-3 rating in 10 games.
New York’s No.1 center for much of the past two seasons, Richards was demoted to the fourth line late in Round 1 against the Capitals and has remained in John Tortorella’s doghouse in Round 2 against Boston.
“This is a Conn Smythe winner, a guy I've grown up with, a guy I love, as a person and a player," Tortorella said after Game 4. "But I have to make that decision. Kiss my ---- if you want to write something different."
Veteran forward Arron Asham, who scored twice in Round 1 against the Capitals including the game-winning goal in Game 7, was also a healthy scratch in Game 4 against Boston.
HUNTER’S KNIGHTS WIN, MOVE ON:
Dale Hunter’s London Knights are two wins away from being crowned champions of the Canadian Hockey League. The Knights are also one defeat away from being sent home.
The Knights kept their season alive and advanced to the Memorial Cup semifinals with a 6-1 win Thursday against the Saskatoon Blades.
The Knights will face the Portland Winterhawks in Friday’s best-of-one national semifinal with the winner advancing to Sunday’s best-of-one national title game against the Halifax Mooseheads.
The former Capitals captain and head coach led the Knights to a Memorial Cup win in 2005.