Thanks to Wednesday's preseason game between Chicago and Detroit, which the Blackhawks won 4-3, Brendan Shanahan has yet another hit to look at and decide if the hammer once again needs to dropped.
With the game tied, 3-3, early in the third period, Chicago's Ben Smith carried the puck into the offensive zone and tried to cut across the middle of the ice. At that point Detroit's Brendan Smith, who is fighting for a roster spot, connected on a hit that resulted in his ejection from the game (as well as a match penalty), while Smith was clearly shaken up and needed assistance in getting off the ice. According to Rule 48, the Match Penalty can be issued if the referee, "in his judgement, feels the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head."
Here's the video:
Was the head the principal point of contact? Was the head targeted? Did the puck-carrier put himself in that position, making it impossible for the defender to avoid the contact? These are the questions that Shanahan will have to answer when it comes to handing out any potential discipline.
According to Chicago Sun Times reporter Adam Jahns, via Twitter, Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said the referees said it's the type of hit that is trying to be taken out of the game. Again, from Jahns: "Both referees said that's a classic example of what we're talking about, that's the illegal hit. It's pretty black & white"
Here's what Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock had to say following the game:
"I don't doubt his shoulder hit his head. Is there any responsibility on the puck-carrier, toe-dragging, sliding sideways, to look after himself? Is there or no? It doesn't appear like there is anymore, is there? You come across the middle toe-dragging like this (has head down, looking at puck), jumping up, and you get dinged ... and I'm not saying our guy isn't guilty, because the shoulder hit his head ... you better not put yourself in those situations is what I would say. There will be a video report on it tomorrow, I'm sure."Chris Neil avoided a suspension for a play that involved Toronto's Mikhail Grabovski on Tuesday night. We should find out soon enough whether or not Smith can as well. Based on the comments from Quenneville, it's not looking good for him.