Could this be the David Pastrnak NHL playoffs? How about the Marc-Andre Fleury playoffs? Sidney Crosby? Maybe Artemi Panarin?
Or is this going to be the George Parros playoffs?
Way too early to reach any conclusions, but the NHL’s director of Player Safety has been forced to be more involved than he wants to be. Only two games into the opening playoff series, Parros already has had to review a handful of on-ice incidents.
Parros has handed out a couple of suspensions, and a couple of his decisions were probably difficult.
Are these incidents outliers? Or is this going to be a nastier playoff year than usual? Is the league-wide parity or some other factor creating more hostility?
We will know more once we see games in all of the playoff cities. What we do know is hatred is building in most series, particularly the Winnipeg-Minnesota, Toronto-Boston and Columbus-Washington series. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, because of their long rivalry, started with animosity built in.
Here is sampling of hits that fans have been talking about so far:
Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty (on William Carrier): Doughty was suspended one game because Carrier’s head was the principal point of contact. Doughty strongly resented the suspension, saying it was unwarranted. His defenders said it was a hockey play that went awry because Carrier was cutting in and Doughty’s hit struck Carrier’s arm and continued up to his head.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri (on Tommy Wingels): Kadri slammed into Wingels after Wingels had struck Kadri’s teammate, Mitch Marner, with a high hit. Kadri was suspended three games because Wingels was facing the boards, falling down and was defenseless when Kadri hit him. Kadri also left skates to add force to the blow.
Philadelphia left wing Claude Giroux (on Kris Letang): This was the oddest hit in the group because Giroux was going backward when he upended Letang, who was moving forward. Most people seem to believe replays support that it was an accidental hit, but some knowledgeable NHL people believe Giroux knew what he was doing. Giroux didn’t have a hearing.
Columbus forward Josh Anderson (on Michal Kempny): Anderson received a five-minute major and was ejected for boarding Kempny in Game 1. Kempny was injured when he was crunched from behind. No hearing on this one, either.
Washington right wing Tom Wilson (on Alex Wennberg): Wilson left his feet to wallop Wennberg, and he received no hearing. But the Capitals did pay a price. The Blue Jackets scored on the power play created by Wilson’s penalty. That tied the score 2-2 and they won the game on Panarin’s goal.
Anaheim right wing Corey Perry (on Melker Karlsson): Some social media outcry for Perry to have a hearing for his blindside hit on Karlsson. The argument is that Karlsson was defenseless and Perry knew it when he hit him hard enough to send Karlsson’s helmet airborne.
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