In last night’s 3-2 loss LA, Kings defensemen Drew Doughty executed a risky crosscheck to the back of Blues forward TJ Oshie in the waining seconds of the third period.
It’s important to note that the officials, Frederick L’Ecuyer and Chris Rooney, did not see this hit in such a light that warranted a call more than a two minute minor. Obviously, Blues fans (and likely the Blues as a team) don’t agree. Honestly, what everyone else thinks is asinine. What matters is what Brendan Shanahan’s interpretation.
After watching the hit several times on the video replay in the NHL on NBC Overtime coverage, I’ve come to two conclusions.
1. The hit itself was not extremely dangerous.
2. Given the context of the game, the intent of the hit is questionable.
Oshie is not known for being a great skater. Few doubt his deft hands, but his feet clod around the ice like Clydesdale circling the field at Busch Stadium. It’s certainly possible that as Oshie came in to the corner he wasn’t exactly on stable footing (remember, bad late third period ice) and he toppled over with not much ability to keep up right.
That said, why is Doughty even taking the chance?
As one of the best defensemen of his generation and a Norris finalist in only his second pro season, Doughty certainly reads and understands situations well. To say he knew how much time was left and knew how to close off Oshie otherwise is a fair assumption. I’m sure he’s seen the Shanahan video explaining the correct plays to make along the boards. With barely enough time to get a pass off, let alone of shot that can best Jonathan Bernier, why not just wrap him up and pin him to the boards as the video shows Kris Letang doing in a preseason game against Chicago? He had support overloaded on his half of the zone, why did he need to separate the man from the puck as if in a one on one situation? Doughty could have easily tied up Oshie and allowed the clock to expire.
The answer is simple. Doughty clearly had ulterior motives beyond prenvting one last attempt for a game tying goal.
The two clubs really don’t get along. Which is odd because they haven’t met in the playoffs in forever, but dislike remains nonetheless. Looking for a little payback for the 5-0 thrashing they were given in October, the Blues set out to make the entire 60 minute affair as tight and chippy as possible (without crossing the proverbial line).
The style of game was a total 180 degree flip from the Islanders & Penguins game show on Versus the night before. If Tuesday’s game was like the trench warfare of WWI then Monday’s was Blitzkrieg.
If all’s fair in war, did Doughty not care that he was taking a risk to send a message? “You can’t beat us and to rub it in even more, eat boards and Plexiglas…”? If that’s not the case, then the hit walks like a duck, quack like a duck, but is actually a chicken.
Yeah, I don’t buy that. I doubt Shanahan will either.
If this hit was made in the first or second period, nothing likely comes of the play other than a phone call talking to. Maybe a fine for risky behavior. But with the game basically decided it’s a perilous hit that shouldn’t be made. Those are one of many that the league wants out of the game.
Given Chris Stewart’s suspension as a first time offender whose dangerous hit didn’t lead to injury, Doughty should expect missing the next 2-3 games. Then again, Stewart was given strict punishment by the officials; a 5 minute major and a 10 minute misconduct. The initial response does carry weight.
Agree or disagree? Put your Shanaban predictions in the comments.
Update: The NHL has fined Doughty $2,500 for the hit on Oshie. No suspension.