Patrick Kaleta of the Buffalo Sabres was guilty of committing a very dangerous boarding play against the Rangers Brad Richards on Sunday evening. The play was during the third period while the Rangers were already on a 5 on 4 power play. The hit was extremely unnecessary, dangerous, and careless as Richards back was turned for a significant amount of time before Kaleta started his hitting action. That is precisely the hit the NHL is looking to remove from the game. Brad Richards was lucky to avoid serious injury during the play. Furthermore you have to question why Kaleta would be engaging a player in that nature while already being down 5 on 4. His decision making process was flawed all around during that sequence.
As far as the hit Dan Girardi laid on Tyler Ennis later in the game; it is apples and oranges compared to the Kaleta hit. Ennis turned during Girardi’s advance to make the hit. The hit is certainly illegal and was deemed so with a boarding penalty. Both calls were correctly made.
I am of the philosophy that the NHL needs to start punishing the act, not the result of the play. I think any potential Kaleta suspension should be the same if Richards left on a stretcher, or if he popped back up and rejoined the play. The only way to be consistent with administering punishment is to have a constant variable. Relying on whether or not the victimized player is hurt does not create a constant variable. The same hit could seriously injure one player, while another player could get right back up and be fine. This would also cut back on the embellishing of plays because the players would know that injury is not a variable. Currently the attacking players seem willing to take the chance that the player they are hitting will get back up and be absent injury. If the player that is hit ends up being fine, the attacking player usually will not be punished. I don’t believe that is the proper way to start eliminating the hits that need to be removed from the game. If the attacking player knows he will be suspended regardless of the result of the play, you will see players proceed more cautiously. Punish the act itself, not the result. It’s the only way to have consistency in disciplinary rulings.
Should the NHL revisit a proposal made by former Toronto GM Brian Burke? Burke proposed allowing a “bear hug” move near the boards to try and eliminate the potential of vicious boarding plays. You can find more details about it from Yahoo's Puck Daddy here.
Here are some various opinions around the hockey world about the Kaleta incident:
@Buccigross There have been worse but I have to agree with the general sentiment of the following...
@Buccigross ...It's probably one of the most dangerous hits I've ever seen," coach John Tortorella said about Patrick Kaleta's hit. "It's disgusting."
@Proteautype A 5-game suspension for the habitually reckless Patrick Kaleta won't stop him from re-offending. No wonder NHLers take revenge themselves.
@JoeYerdonPHT I'd like to be wrong on the low end of my guess. Max it at five, send a message. Fine anyone who calls BS because Richards wasn't hurt.
@JoeYerdonPHT Shanahan and the Department of Player Safety should be allowed to rule with an iron fist. Rats like Kaleta don't care about safety.
Pardy time in Buffalo? The Sabres are 3-1-1 with Adam Pardy in the lineup; they are 6-11-1 when he isn’t.
The incredible run the Chicago Blackhawks are on is not ready to end yet. Patrick Kane scored a late PP goal to tie the game up against the Red Wings on Sunday. Kane then put on quite the show in the shootout to help the Hawks escape with a shootout win. The Hawks are a well oiled machine and are one of the best views in the entire NHL.
The Pittsburgh Penguins ended their mini losing streak by beating Montreal in overtime with 7-6 victory at the Bell Center. The game was the primetime matchup for Hockey Night in Canada and it certainly delivered on entertainment value. Michael Therrien and Dan Bylsma will most likely not care for what they see on tape.
Thomas Vokoun had yet another miserable outing for the Penguins in allowing 6 goals. Since Vokoun shut the Rangers out on January 31 he has not given up less than 3 goals in any of his appearances. In his last two and a half games he has given up 16 goals. More puzzling was Bylsma’s decision to start Vokoun in Montreal in the first place. Marc Andre Fleury is from Sorel, Quebec which is very close to Montreal. Fleury had many family and friends at the game. While that should not be the deciding factor in playing a goaltender, Fleury is clearly the #1 guy and given that Vokoun has been struggling it should have been a no brainer decision to start Fleury. The decision almost cost Pittsburgh a much needed two points. Rumors around the locker room had Fleury none too pleased with the decision. Bylsma needs to be careful when making choices like the one he made Saturday night. There is human element to coaching and those kinds of decisions can have a ripple effect in the locker room.
Another questionable string of decisions involving Bylsma has been his stubbornness to include rookie Simon Despres in the lineup on a full time basis. Despres has been a solid contributor to the Penguins. Only Crosby and Malkin have a higher Corsi REL rating than Despres. The Penguins are 12-4 when Despres is in the lineup, including winning the last 5 games in a row with him dressed. Without Despres this year the Penguins are 2-4 without him in the lineup. Despres was the player who led the final rush in overtime against Montreal that led to Brandon Sutter’s game winning goal. Bylsma and company would be wise to leave the young Despres in the lineup for the foreseeable future.
You can hear Hall of Fame Broadcaster Mike Lange's overtime goal call from Saturday night here. It truly is a crime against hockey that Lange is relegated to radio only duty while the much less talented Paul Steigerwald continues to have the television duty for Root Sports.
How long will the St. Louis Blues stick with Brian Elliott before calling Jake Allen back up? Elliott has given up four or more goals in each of his previous five starts. He is 0-4-1 during that stretch. The most troubling part is that the Blues give up the fewest shots per game in the entire NHL (22.9 shots/game). They need more from their backup goalie position.
Thanks for reading!