Chicago Blackhawks: Penalties
DETROIT -- Another questionable officiating call found its way into the spotlight of the Chicago Blackhawks-Detroit Red Wings Western Conference semifinal series during Game 6 on Monday.
The Blackhawks’ game-winning goal in Monday’s 4-3 victory, which tied the series at 3-3, was the result of a penalty shot given to Blackhawks forward Michael Frolik after Red Wings defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo was called for slashing Frolik from behind on a breakaway at 9:43 of the third period.
Frolik beat Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard with a backhanded shot and gave the Blackhawks a 4-2 lead. The Red Wings trimmed the lead to 4-3 with a goal in the final minute of the third period.
Frolik and Colaiacovo disagreed on whether Colaiacovo’s stick made contact with Frolik’s hand as they approached the net.
“I haven't seen the play,” Colaiacovo said. “I didn't think I hit him in the hand. I thought I hit him in his pants. It's an unfortunate call. ... I was surprised they called a penalty shot.”
That was after he was carted off the ice, his neck stabilized, his body supine.
That was after he lay on the ice for long, scary minutes as the United Center piped in “Blue Moon,” to chill out the crowd (it didn’t work) and cut replays from the scoreboard.
That was after Hossa’s head bounced off the ice.
That was after Phoenix Coyotes aggressor Raffi Torres left his feet and rammed his left shoulder into Hossa’s right jaw.
That was after Torres, skating from behind, sized up Hossa like he was Brandon Meriweather on skates.
Read the entire column.
After Shaw’s phone call with the league’s department of player safety early Monday afternoon it was assumed a decision on Shaw’s fate would be rendered by the end of that day. Was he going to be further punished? But late word from the league Monday afternoon said the decision is now coming Tuesday.
Or is there more to it?
Another layer to the story was added when Smith didn’t take the ice for practice on Monday in Phoenix prior to the Coyotes’ departure for Chicago. Like the Hawks, the Coyotes had the day off on Sunday and all but Smith and two other known injured players -- Martin Hanzal and Lauri Korpikoski -- were on the ice on Monday. The idea that a goaltender would take a second consecutive day off without an injury seems remote.
“I told you we’re not talking about injuries, he’s fine,” coach Dave Tippett said Monday afternoon about Smith missing practice.
CHICAGO -- There are a couple of sayings when it comes to playoff hockey which now apply to the Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes:
Ok, maybe the latter sentiment isn’t exactly a known saying, but maybe it should be. Either way, the following two words apply to the rest of the best-of-seven series: Game on.
The first two games in the desert didn’t lack for drama, that’s for sure. The Hawks scored first in both games before Phoenix stormed back to take the lead, only to see those leads improbably evaporate in the closing seconds of regulation -- first with 0:15 to go then with just 0:05 remaining. Each team got its game-winner in overtime and neither has led by more than a goal.
“It’s [gone] exactly the way I thought it was going to be,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said after Saturday’s 4-3 victory by the visiting Blackhawks. “Tight and very contested.”
The hit deserved a penalty, but did it deserve to be a major infraction leading to an expulsion?
McGeough makes a decent case, which brings to bear the notion that Smith looked down and out after the hit but stayed in the game. Afterward he said he was, “100 percent.” So did his lengthy stay on the ice draw Shaw a worse penalty? The Hawks thought so.
“Obviously the officials thought Smith was done, that’s probably why we got the five-minute penalty,” Jonathan Toews said.
Lucky for Shaw the ensuing power-play goal didn’t turn out to be the game-winner. It was five seconds away from being just that.
“I was down on myself,” Shaw said. “I know we have a hard-working team. They stick together and pulled out the win.”
At the 7:11 mark of the second period, Shaw hit Smith in the head with his shoulder as the two collided behind the Coyotes' net. Smith sprawled to the ice and was attended to by the trainers for several minutes but stayed in the game.
"He went to play the puck," Shaw explained after the game. "His stick came up towards my face and so I tried to get away from it and unfortunately I made a little contact. I'm glad he's OK."
Read the entire story.
The teams exchanged goals in the second period. First, Brandon Bollig tallied his first career goal on a wicked wrist shot coming down the left wing. The score tied the game at 2-2.
A few minutes later, Andrew Shaw ran goaltender Mike Smith behind his net and was kicked out of the game after being called for charging. He was given a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for the play. Smith went flying onto the ice and lay there for several minutes as trainers attended to him. He stayed in the game and the Coyotes scored on the ensuing power play when Antoine Vermette got one past Corey Crawford with Raffi Torres providing a screen.
As for the charging call on Shaw, the NHL rulebook defines charging as:
“Charging shall mean the actions of a player who, as a result of distance traveled, shall violently check an opponent in any manner. A “charge” may be the result of a check into the boards, into the goal frame or in open ice.”
As for hitting goaltenders, the rulebook states:
“A goalkeeper is not “fair game” just because he is outside the goal crease area. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an opposing player makes unnecessary contact with a goalkeeper. However, incidental contact, at the discretion of the referee, will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.”
The Hawks had back-to-back power-play chances late in the second period but failed to score. They have 29 shots on net to the Coyotes’ 21.
His high-sticking penalty late in the second period put the Flames on the power play and instead of a 1-1 second intermission tie, Calgary took the lead with a Jay Bouwmeester rebound goal.
“I hit him in the face and he was bleeding so it was four minutes,” Frolik said. “I feel sorry for the guys. You have to control the stick. It was like the turning point.”
Momentum carried over for the Flames, who played a solid third period, extending their lead on a beauty of a goal by Jarome Iginla.
“It was my bad,” Frolik said of giving them that momentum.
Frolik didn’t shy away from his responsibility in the loss, but the play was just one in a year he’d like to forget. Stuck on just five goals in 49 games he can’t be taking bad penalties that cost his team points in the standings.
“Our positioning was fine, we just missed the puck,” Quenneville said. “It was a break for them.”
“It’s probably a lot higher than I want to admit.” -- Steve Montador, on his frustration level.
At 2:12 of the first period, Desjardins was assessed a two-minute minor for boarding Lepisto.
The fine is the maximum allowed under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
CHICAGO -- A quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 6-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night at the United Center.
How it happened: The Hawks were torched for five power-play goals as their top-rated penalty kill units took on major abuse. Point men were open all night for Vancouver, and several goals were scored around the net, a frustrating trend for Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. It didn’t help that the Hawks power play struggled yet again, looking as bad as it’s looked all season. Quenneville eventually tried different combinations, but nothing worked. The Hawks closed to within one at 3-2 late in the second on a beauty of a rebound goal by Marcus Kruger, but Vancouver responded with two goals before the second-period horn sounded, including their fourth power-play tally of the night. The Blackhawks’ Michael Frolik scored in the first period on a soft goal given up by Roberto Luongo, but the Canucks netminder was good the rest of the way.
What it means: The Hawks were outplayed in all phases, but mostly on special teams. If their penalty killing is going to have issues for more than one night the Hawks are in big trouble, because their power play is as lost as ever. After switching up the units recently, Quenneville went back to “old” ones to start the game and they were as stale as ever. The penalty killing is reminiscent of last year’s problems as shooting lanes opened up for the Canucks at every turn. The penalties the Hawks took weren’t very good either -- even Patrick Kane was called for roughing, which led to a power play goal. It was just the third time this season in which the Hawks didn’t earn a point, but this one stung. They were outclassed at home by their arch-rivals.
What’s next: The Hawks head right back on the road for two games beginning with a Tuesday matchup with the St. Louis Blues, who fired their head coach, Davis Payne, on Sunday, hiring Ken Hitchcock in his place.
Calvert checked Toews into the boards and was given a two-minute minor penalty for the infraction, but he won’t have a hearing with the league to determine additional discipline.
Toews was slow to get up but finished the game.
Maybe none … until now.
The NHL is serious about cracking down on illegal hits to the head (and similarly dangerous blows) and new czar of discipline, Brendan Shanahan, is doling out harsher penalties than ever. And he’s just getting started.
As of Tuesday afternoon, players had been suspended for a total of 17 regular-season games plus a handful of preseason games. The point is for the rest of the league to take notice.
“It’s going to change the way you play a little bit,” Chicago Blackhawks defenseman John Scott said Tuesday. “I don’t think I play that way, but I think a lot of guys who do will change the way they play. Maybe they’ll think twice about going in and hitting some defenseless player.”
Many players have advocated for stiff penalties for a long time and think it will eventually make a difference. But there’s going to be an adjustment period.
“If there were longer suspensions people would have been less inclined to act that way,” Steve Montador said. “I don’t know how long the sample has to be but the stricter the rules, the less likely they are to happen.”
Shanahan is a recently retired player so people can’t claim the league is out of touch or penalizing aimlessly. In fact, the league is trying to be open about how and why they are penalizing, even producing videos with Shanahan explaining his reasoning.
“Everybody knows that they want consistency and they want transparency,” Shanahan told ESPN.com’s Pierre Lebrun. “I’m showing that I’m giving transparency; the consistency part will only be judged over time and that’s all they’re asking for.’’
The players respect that attitude.
“The more examples that are shown the better off we will be,” forward Jamal Mayers said.
For Mayers, it’s about having a plan when going in for a check to avoid the possibility of injury or suspension.
“My theory is if I can’t hit at least half of their body then I go by them,” he explained. “That’s the way I’ve approached it. You’re either going to hurt yourself or someone else. Typically when you just stick out your leg or shoulder or elbow and don’t get all of the guy, or at least half of him, you’re going to be susceptible.”
If Tampa Bay’s Pavel Kubina had followed those instructions, Dave Bolland may have avoided a concussion last March. And maybe Jonathan Toews isn’t plowed over by Willie Mitchell a few seasons ago. And Brent Seabrook has been the victim of two vicious head hits, including one by James Wisniewski, who was just suspended eight games for a second time after a hit on Minnesota’s Cal Clutterbuck.
Scott thinks he knows why the preseason has started out with so many questionable hits.
“Preseason everyone is running around and wanting to make an impact,” he explained. “You don’t hit in the summer, you just go out there and try to kill everyone so I’m not surprised. Hopefully accidental hits, you’re not going to get suspended for them.”
And that’s one possible downside. Will an accidental high hit lead to a lengthy suspension and if so, is it worth it?
“You’re never going to please everybody,” Montador said. “There are going to make mistakes.”
Anything negative associated with the new policies seems to be outweighed by the good they can possibly achieve over time: a reduction in head hits and concussions. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville says the organization is taking the issue seriously.
“We showed the [video] clips from Brendan [Shanahan],” Quenneville said. “We looked at it, we watched it. The guys talk about. We go to the website and see what is [a suspendable offense]. It has to grab their attention. You’re missing eight games or five games. You get hit in the pocketbook and you’re hurting your team as well. The severity of it has to get the players’ attention. Maybe it’s the greatest deterrent that’s been out there. I don’t think anyone wants to be missing games for that amount.”
Quenneville joked that in his day players didn’t know if they had a concussion, they thought “it was a hangover.” But times have changed and so have the severity of the hits. The league is walking a fine line, but cracking down more than ever.
“You don’t want to take out the physical side of the game because that’s what makes our game so special, but you want to protect the players,” Mayers said.
NHL vice president Colin Campbell was defensive Wednesday when talking about the criticism he has received over suspensions.
Campbell, speaking on TSN Radio 1050, addressed his decision to not suspend the Vancouver Canucks' Raffi Torres for his hit on the Chicago Blackhawks' Brent Seabrook behind the net in Game 3 of their series.Read the entire story.
I agreed with the league’s controversial no-punishment of Boston’s Zdeno Chara when he nailed Montreal’s Max Pacioretty into a stanchion. And I agreed when it assessed a three-game suspension to Tampa Bay’s Pavel Kubina for the hit to Dave Bolland which has kept the Chicago Blackhawks center out of action since early March.
"When Rule 48 (Illegal Check to the Head) was unanimously adopted by the General Managers in March 2010, there was no intention to make this type of shoulder hit to the head illegal,” NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said in a statement. “In fact, at that time, we distributed a video to all players and teams that showed a similar hit on a defenseman by an attacking forward coming from the opposite direction behind the net and stated that this is a 'legal play'.
"This hit meets none of the criteria that would subject Torres to supplemental discipline, including an application of Rule 48: he did not charge his opponent or leave his feet to deliver this check. He did not deliver an elbow or extended forearm and this hit was not 'late'.”
So in other words, targeting the head of an opponent, as long as you follow the guidelines, is permissible under NHL rules. For a league that speaks seriously of reducing concussions this idea seems out of place.
Players can give good insight into these incidents since they’re the ones delivering the blows and serving the punishments, but usually they back their teammates, as most did in both dressing rooms Sunday and Monday.
But Patrick Sharp has been the rare player who speaks without bias. He defended Kubina’s hit on Bolland claiming, “He’s not that type of player,” and reiterating it was an accident several times. Reputation, more than anything else, plays into the thought process of other players. Torres doesn’t have a good one, at least not recently.
“Hits like [Torres’], I’m usually the first guy to give the guy the benefit of the doubt but in this situation I just look at the player making the hit and his intent,” Sharp said. “He played eight or nine minutes and I don’t think he touched the puck. He took a run at Brian Campbell earlier. Tried to hit him with an elbow. His job out there is to create big hits. He got a penalty so obviously it wasn’t a clean hit. I think it’s pretty clear what his intentions were.”
And we know the league takes this into account. Torres had just come off a four-game suspension for a similar hit and declared he wasn’t going to change his ways. The fact that Seabrook was skating in one direction while looking for the puck in the other seems to be the mitigating circumstance. How is a player supposed to receive a pass if he needs to be watching for head hunters in front of him instead of where the puck is coming from?
Seabrook, one of the toughest individuals in the league, said it right on Monday, “Drill me in the chest.” And that’s where the NHL got it wrong.
Intended head shots should be illegal no matter the circumstances. The game might be too fast for a referee to make that decision, but that’s what supplemental discipline is for.
The bottom line is if Torres’ hit was technically legal then he was lucky, because there was nothing “legal” about his intent. The league got it wrong and needs to change the rule, and soon.
His head blow to Brent Seabrook in the second period was as scary as they come. His shoulder/elbow slammed into the side of Seabrook’s face, eventually sending him to the dressing room although he returned for the third period.
Torres was given just a minor penalty and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville thought he got off way too easily.
Torres was coming off a four-game suspension which spanned the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs. Game 3 was his first game back.
Seabrook downplayed the hit, saying he didn’t see it coming and hadn’t seen a replay.
“I felt it on my cheek and my ear,” Seabrook said.
Seabrook’s teammates predictably came to Seabrook’s defense.
“His reputation as of late speaks for itself,” Jonathan Toews said of Torres. “He’s not trying to go in there and make a play. He’s trying to hurt one of our players. To us that’s pretty obvious. It is what it is. We said in the locker room there is a time for everything and we’ll deal with it accordingly.”
Scott’s penalty: Until John Scott was called for interference at 9:56 of the second period, the Hawks had been playing a flawless game. Scott’s penalty was the team’s first, but it changed the momentum. Vancouver scored on the ensuing power play, and again 54 seconds later.
“I didn’t even see him,” Scott said of Maxim Lapierre. “He just went down and sold it pretty good. He’s got to call it. He’s known for diving and embellishing stuff. I think it was a bad call but he has to call it.”
Scott said he was trying to check defenseman Alexander Edler but ended up hitting Lapierre.
“You can’t put that on him,” Toews said. “You get one call like that you disagree with. We have to find out a way to kill that. For them to get a goal like that off the draw is unacceptable.”
Scott didn’t play another shift in the game.
Desperation talk: The Hawks know the hole they are in. Only three teams, including the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers, have come back from a 3-0 series deficit to win.
Quenneville: “We’re in an awful spot right now, and I don’t think you want to look any further than trying to get something positive going in our direction.”
Brian Campbell: “You got to get one first and see from there. You think about four, you’ll be climbing some mountain and you’re never going to get there.”
Seabrook: “We’ve dug ourselves a hole here. We have to find a way to get a big win.”
“If they don’t go in, you have to find a way to keep them out of your net,” Toews said. “We didn’t do that.”