VIDEO: SportsnetCanada

Colorado Avalanche player Gabriel Landeskog laid Big Bad Bruin Brad Marchand out with what some are calling a blindside hit. Landeskog was assessed a match penalty on the play, and to boot was the victim of a sucker punch from a clearly irritated Marchand, who took two minutes for roughing.

I’ve already discussed a little about blindside hits in Kevin Bieksa: 2 minutes for interference may be too lenient. What makes this hit on Marchand easier to accept is that Marchand was in a dangerous shooting position. Marchand has one of the best wrist shots in the entire league and if you have a chance to prevent him from taking it, you probably should. The hit therefore was a hockey play and served a true purpose. Landeskog came in from the side, kept his arm and elbow down, stopped skating, and led the hit with his shoulder. He did everything he could to make the hit as painless as possible for Marchand.
The only thing that makes this hit dangerous is the fact that it was delivered at a moment when Marchand was completely focused on shooting the puck. This is not the fault of anyone but the sport of hockey. Was the principal point of contact with the head? Who really cares. When a guy is bent over having just followed through on a shot it’s pretty much impossible to control what part of his body you’re going to hit first. Landeskog himself was in full control and did everything right here. If you’re not allowed to hit a guy when he’s shooting from the middle of the slot then they may as well stop keeping score.

Verdict: MAYBE could have been two minutes just because the ref might have felt peer pressure to call at least something. But by comparison, if Bieksa was only two minutes for interference then instead of being ejected, Landeskog should have been awarded a breakaway.