Hockey is a sport of grace and violence.
It is less about brute force, like football, and more about the skillful application of power. There is nothing quite as beautiful as a player stepping up and into another to separate them from the puck. These well-timed hits are an integral part of the game.
For example, lets look back to last week where Evgeni Malkin smashed the Rangers’ Dan Girardi into his atomic components.
Girardi had his head down and Malkin connected square into his chest to separate him from the puck… and his senses. Girardi, understandable shaken up, later returned to the game in overtime.
That is everything a clean hit should be:
- The torso is the primary point of contact.
- The player is separated from the puck.
- Neither player was seriously injured.
If only all hits could be this way. Sadly, this is not the case.
In the game last night versus the Islanders, Johnny Boychuk showed exactly how not to behave, with a dirty hit late in the game.
As you can clearly see, Boychuk’s cross check was the primary point of contact. His leg was out in an effort to contact Malkin’s knee for added effect It didn’t separate the player from the puck, as the puck was nowhere near Malkin at the time.
Malkin felled by what from up here appeared to be a crosscheck from Johnny Boychuk across the arm. Hard to tell. Looks like he’ll be OK. — Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) November 22, 2014
Replay shows Boychuk driving his leg into Malkin’s — hard — and going for a charley horse. With puck on other side of rink. OK.
— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) November 22, 2014
On any of these actions, a penalty is deserved.
Malkin is hurt. Skates slowly to the bench. — Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_Trib) November 22, 2014
Nothing was called on the play. Luckily, Malkin returned later in the game.
It’s hard to view this as anything but a dirty play due to the simple fact that the puck was nowhere nearby. As of posting, the NHL has not announced an supplemental discipline – and I wouldn’t hold my breath for any. Just remember plays like this when you hear the league talk about putting player safety above all else.
As for Boychuk, there is only one thing Pens fans can do tonight during the rematch game:
— Gobble Gobble Lee (@LCJS) November 22, 2014
Cross posted at PensInitiative.com