Friday night’s instalment of the Leafs/Canadiens rivalry featured the usual series of dangerous hits. But were any of them over the line?
The first hit under scrutiny was delivered by Toronto’s Matt Martin to Canadien Nathan Beaulieu.
Beaulieu picked up a pass from Carey Price in the corner and was always facing the boards. There was never a time where he was opened up in a position to be hit cleanly from the angle Martin approached at. Martin was in good hockey stance and was in total control and could have bailed out of this hit at any time.
There was on small chance near the end where once Beaulieu cleared the puck up the boards, as a left shot that motion would naturally turn his right shoulder to the middle and expose his chest. This did happen, but not nearly enough for Martin to focus on that area as the principle point of contact.
Martin had plenty of time to recognize all of this and, like I said, did everything right as far as keeping himself under control to be able to back out if necessary. That’s what makes his decision so stupid. he turned further into the hit at the last moment and used so much force his momentum carried him over top of Beaulieu even after impact.
This could have been a lot worse had he not done an otherwise clean hit, but he should be suspended for shear avoidability.
Hit two was the last second cross check by Alexei Emelin on James Van Riemsdyk.
I can’t believe how much this has come up this week. Dekeyser on Wilson, Dumoulin on Foligno, and now this.
There’s a lot of reasons to want to suspend here. The timing (last second of the game). The violent impact.
With the Dekeyser hit I felt a suspension was needed because Wilson was still skating and mostly because Dekeyser checked further up the back, forcing the head and neck down into the boards to take the brunt of impact.
In the case of Dumoulin, Foligno had stopped to protect the space he wanted and was braced for a hit. It was more of a battle so the check was part of a hockey play. Plus Dumo hit low at the waist so the head and neck stayed safety up.
This Emelin hit is kind of a hybrid. Emelin keeps his stick at the waist allowing JVR to remain upright (albeit on his knees). But JVR wasn’t planted and braced either. He was skating hard toward to the boards already, so the impact caused by any little nudge was going to be amplified significantly.
Even though the call on the ice was cross checking, not boarding, I think a suspension is necessary here to stop