Rangers upset with Chris Neil's hit

Updated: April 22, 2012, 9:40 AM ET
By Katie Strang | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers forward Brian Boyle suffered a concussion from Chris Neil's third-period hit in the team's 2-0 loss to the Senators on Saturday, and New York coach John Tortorella made it clear he wants the league to take action.

Tortorella likened the hit to the dangerous blow from Phoenix's Raffi Torres on Chicago's Marian Hossa earlier this week that earned Torres a whopping 25-game suspension.

[+] EnlargeBrian Boyle
AP Photo/Bill KostrounOttawa's Chris Neil stands over the Rangers' Brian Boyle after checking him in the third period Saturday. Boyle suffered a concussion on the play.

"Well they have the blueprint," Tortorella said in his postgame news conference. "It's the exact same hit as Torres' -- a different part of the ice -- but he launches himself, head shot, (the) puck's at the goal line, and he's hit. So, the blueprint's there. I'm sure he's a repeat offender, too. Not much research to be done there."

Neil is not a repeat offender, however, a critical distinction between Neil and Torres. But Boyle suffered what could potentially be a very serious injury, a fact that will be taken into consideration when the league reviews the play.

"He's concussed," Tortorella confirmed. "He's out."

Boyle was slow to get up after getting rocked by Neil with a high shot in the Rangers' offensive zone, and after playing three more shifts later in the period, did not return for the remainder of the game. Boyle, the team's series MVP with goals in the first three games, will not play in Game 6 on Monday as the Rangers face elimination against the eighth-seeded Senators in Ottawa.

Neil was not penalized on the play.

"It's just a dangerous, dangerous cheap hit," Tortorella said. "The puck is on the goal line and it's the exact same hit."

Neil's hit on Boyle came just hours after the NHL announced its supposed standard-setting ban against Torres that caused ripples across the league. The NHL's Department of Player Safety has come under fire throughout the first round of the playoffs with head shots mounting and the perceived inconsistencies in assessing supplementary discipline.

Neil defended himself after the game and said his hit was "clean."

"He cuts to the middle with his head down. I'm putting back pressure and trying to bust back and get in good position. I'm a physical player out there. I think it's a clean hit," he told reporters. "He was slow getting up, but I think I probably just knocked the wind out of him. He's a big man, so I think it takes a lot out of me delivering those hits."

After roughing up Senators top defenseman Erik Karlsson, Boyle has been targeted by the Senators throughout the series. In Game 2, he dropped the gloves with Neil after suffering a severe beatdown from defenseman Matt Carkner. He was also booed each time he touched the puck in Ottawa for Games 3 and 4. He responded to such taunts with the winner in Game 3.

"I hope he's fine," said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. "I'm not sure, but he's played a big part for us. So we'll see how he feels tomorrow. He's important to us in a lot of areas of the game, faceoffs and scoring some big goals for us. Hopefully he'll be fine."

At the very least, Boyle will miss Game 6. Pending potential discipline, Neil might, too.

"You have to go out and play the game. Obviously, you don't like to see the suspensions. If it's a dirty one, then yeah, you have to be held accountable for it," said Neil, who maintained his hit was clean.

"But if you're going out and playing the game clean and finishing checks hard and playing hard, that's what it's about."

Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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