There are two hits to talk about from the Flyers/Caps game three tonight, so let’s get started right away.
The first one I’ll look at is the Ryan White hit on Brooks Orpik.
I see nothing wrong with this hit. Orpik was stretched out like a sitting duck. But he was always eligible to be hit, White kept his arm down, took a good angle, didn’t drive him into the boards, and didn’t target the head.
Some are arguing it was a charge, but I don’t see how planting both feet to glide into a hit and not jump constitutes a charge.
There wasn’t even a penalty called on the play, and I think they got it right.
Now for the main event. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was handed a 5 minute major and game misconduct for checking from behind on Dmitry Orlov.
Video: Drakkar Fights
To be honest I have two different immediate reactions to the hit. The first one is, to me, did any contact in this case ever have a chance at being clean? That’s a tough one to answer. The problem nowadays is these situations are a lot less predictable than they used to be. But my initial reaction was no, and I stand by that.
Where I find myself hesitant to suspend is that Bellemare didn’t necessarily do anything to cause the danger to the hit. He went in with speed, but then he planted and slowed, feet wide apart. He had one hand on his stick to block Orlov from turning up the boards, and he had his left hand in a ready position to actually steer Orlov safely into the boards. He wasn’t looking to do any more damage than needed, and in fact took steps to lessen the chances of dangerous impact. Where he went wrong was not stopping up. This isn’t because he didn’t want to, but because he wasn’t in a good position to pull out if anything went wrong.
As it happens, what went wrong was Orlov pulled up himself. I’ll stop it right there to explain: I AM NOT BLAMING ORLOV FOR GETTING HIMSELF HURT. He has every right to try and maintain body position and protect the puck. You take your chances and you win or lose the battle. But this action constitutes a sudden, unexpected movement on the part of the player being hit that prevented Bellemare from changing his position once committed.
Where I think he earned the major penalty was on his choice to commit to the hit too early, preventing any hope of saving himself or whoever he happened to hit.