There were at least two discussion worthy hits from last night’s Stanley Cup Playoff overtime game between Tampa Bay and New York.
This article addresses the first, a major open ice hit delivered by Islander Thomas Hickey against Lightning dangler Jonathan Drouin.
To be clear, I think this hit was fantastically clean. Drouin had the puck with speed and tried a move. Hickey played the angle perfectly and was there to meet him.
Why I think this hit is noteworthy is how it shows the effect of high speed clean impact on the body of the player delivering the hit. There was so much talk of how Pittsburgh’s Kristopher Letang “left his feet” while hitting Marcus Johansson, where many used that as proof that the hit was malicious.
My explanation on why Letang’s feet left the ice was posted on Twitter(@ToughCallBlog) and reads:
“I think Letang’s feet leaving the ice is just a product of a high speed impact. As a hitter, you generally don’t want to hurt anyone. You’re not propelling into the hit. In most cases. all you’re doing is positioning yourself to make the guy run into you and hit himself. However, you always want to make sure you’re braced enough for impact, so either during or just before impact there’s a tendency to adjust or push forward slightly just to be sure you have enough stability. At impact, Letang leaned slightly forward to “cradle” the hit, then momentum pushed him upward. That’s why his feet left the ice.”
To its credit, the NHL Department of Player Safety also eluded to this in the video they released explaining Letang’s 1 game suspension.
As you can see in the Hickey video, this is proven by what happens to him after clean and legal contact.
No one is accusing Hickey of jumping into the hit, but the exact same thing happened to Letang and the hockey world imploded.