((HT: Jim Lang Blog))
It's Thursday, and he's prolific...
And it's all based on this...
((HT: NHL on TSN))
In the third period of Wednesday night’s loss to the Wild Leafs forward Nazem Kadri was given a match penalty and kicked out of the game after he hit Mikael Granlund.
Which raises the question; what happened to hitting in hockey?
Now I am not talking about “Matt Cooke” type cheap shot elbows to the head. I am talking about good, hard bodychecks.
There is no doubt it was a hard hit by Kadri; but a hit worthy of a match penalty? Not a chance.
Kadri’s elbow was down and his stick was down and he made contact with his shoulder. I see dozens of hits every week in the NHL that are worse than that and they don’t result in a match penalty.
Now earlier in the game Kadri collided with Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom in the crease and Backstrom had to leave the game with a concussion. Kadri was given a interference penalty on the play. So you are left to wonder if the match penalty for the hit on Granlund was a make-up call for not given him a harsher penalty for running into Backstrom.
Hockey is still a contact sport. Hitting is still a part of the NHL. I agree with the league-wide initiative to remove blatant head shots from the game. There is no place for that in the modern NHL. But the hit Kadri laid on Granlund is the kind of thing that has been in the game forever and I hope it never goes away.
I can only imagine Scott Stevens watching a tape of that hit and laughing his ass off when he heard that it was worthy of a match penalty.
The bigger question for players is the reality that refs around the league will interpret what is a hit worthy of a match penalty far differently than the next guy. So the hit that is fine on Tuesday night in Edmonton might result in you getting kicked out of the game Friday night in Chicago.
Now there comes word that Kadri is facing a hearing this afternoon at 1:00PM ET for running over Backstrom, and not the hit on Granlund.
I am fine with that. Much like quarterbacks in the NFL, the NHL has to do whatever it can to protect goalies. But if that is indeed the case why did Kadri receive only a two minute minor for running into him? And you wonder why players get confused as to what is a suspendable offence and what isn’t? Brian Gionta was never suspended for taking out James Reimer. In this case there seems little chance Kadri won’t receive some kind of suspension for his hit on Backstrom.
Hence the confusion by players and Coaches as what is worthy of a suspension and what isn’t.
The bottom line is that the Leafs will likely be with-out Kadri for at least one game and maybe more on a team already razor thin at centre. The timing is awful as the Leafs are in Buffalo Friday night for the first of a home-and-home with Ted Nolan and the new-look Sabres.
Jay McClement led all Leafs forwards Wednesday night with 23:37 of ice time. His previous high this year was the 21:33 he logged in the Leafs loss to Columbus back on October 25th. McClement better have a good pre-game nap Friday because is sure to log some serious ice -time this weekend.
Lost in the Kadri ejection and pending suspension is the fact that David Clarkson has all of one assist in the eight games he has played since coming off of his suspension. With all of their injuries and the Kadri situation the Leafs desperately need Clarkson to break out of his funk and start producing.