Zac Rinaldo, James Neal, and Shawn Thornton probably got themselves in the line of fire with their actions yesterday. The NHL got off to a bad start in yesterday’s NHL games with a bad incident in Dallas, and then things picked up later in the day in Boston.
The first incident was from Zac Rinaldo who jumped Antoine Roussel just 4 seconds into his first shift and one minute and fifteen seconds into the game. It is important to note that prior too there appeared to be nothing done by Roussel to earn being jumped, it was just Zac Rinaldo being an idiot. Rinaldo jumped Roussel and ended up getting one or two punches in before he was restrained. Rinaldo ended up with 27 penalty minutes and putting his team shorthanded for 7 minutes because of an instigator penalty and a fighting major.
The video of the incident is below from our good friends at www.hockeyfights.com.
Then in Boston things got really wacky, it started with Brooks Orpik, and ended with Brooks Oprik leaving the game on a stretcher. What happened what Brooks Orpik layed out Loui Eriksson with a boarderline hit in the first minute of the game, and I thought it deserved a penalty for charging, or a hit to the head.
The video is below of the hit on Eriksson is below: Credit to youtube user SomeHockeyVideos
Later in the first period Brooks Orpik was challenged by Shawn Thornton and refused to fight him over the Loui Eriksson hit. Which lead to Shawn Thornton to taking a penalty for roughing.
The real ugliness in this game came at the 11:06 marker where Brad Marchand was checked to the ice, and he stayed down for a minute because he was either out of breath or injured, whatever the case may be, and James Neal delivered a cheap shot knee to Marchand’s head, and Marchand was down on the ice after that. A few seconds passed and Gregory Campbell got involved with Kris Letang and James Neal seemingly just jawing at them, things seemed pretty calm, and then Shawn Thornton came over and knocked Orpik to the ice with what appears to be a modified slew foot, and he piled on Orpik and started punching and got in two punches before being pulled off of Orpik. Orpik at that point was out cold and was stretchered off of the ice after being stabilized by both teams medical staffs.
The video of this incident is below, and again credit goes to youtube user SomeHockeyVideos
Thoughts on the Incidents
The Rinaldo “fight” was just a blatant attack on Roussel for no apparent reason. Rinaldo is known for these types of plays, he is an edgy player and seems to cross the line a little too often unfortunately for him. Rinaldo will probably get suspended but not for long maybe 1-3 games since there was no need for his actions that transpired.
I can see a suspension coming James Neal’s way, it was pretty clear to me that he intended to hit Marchand in the head with his knee, there is no defending the situation he caused himself. The replay clearly shows he angled his leg towards Marchand’s head in order to make contact with Marchand. I can see anywhere from 1-5 games for this hit.
And remember James Neal is a repeat offender and has a history of taking cheap shots at other players. In 2011-2012 he took out Jakob Voracek on a dirty hit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Flyers, and put a head shot on Claude Giroux the very next shift and was suspended for his actions which lead to the following incident in Philadelphia.
Neal was suspended after this game, and Craig Adams also was suspended one game for an instigator.
I am disappointed to have to write this about Thornton because up until last night he had lived up to his montra which is to play by the code that enforcers in the NHL have. Unfortunately last night he did not and it lead to someone leaving the game on a stretcher.
Before last nights attack on Brooks Orpik Thornton had never received a match penalty for any actions and had never been suspended for anything in his career either. Thornton to my knowledge had never received a major in his career for anything outside of fighting. So to say I was surprised, really doesn’t cover it. I was shocked by his actions.
Thornton will be facing a suspension and he should, this is not a fight and way out of character for Thornton. I can see him getting 5-15 games for this incident. The range is so big because he has no suspension history and has prided himself on playing a hard but clean style of hockey.
Overall yesterday was a unfortunately step in the wrong direction for the NHL. Two attacks and a dirty knee to the head will be the story for awhile which overshadows the greatness that has been the 2013-2014 NHL season to this point. The Western Conference is setting the pace for exciting hockey from slots 1 through 9 being separated by just 8 points. And teams 1 through 12 all have a legitimate shot at the playoffs still to this point in the West.
The Eastern Conference has become somewhat of an afterthought because the Western Conference is just that good. And while these attacks and incidents make them the headlines to this point, it won’t last for long and the league will shift the focus back on the Western Conference once the coming days pass.
And the Western Conference deserves it with the play that has been played there throughout the season. I am hoping the Eastern Conference gets going in a positive direction because not for nothing, the Western Conference has been the shining star of the NHL and deserves the recognition that it has gotten from various outlets including this site, it is the far superior conference and there is no way that I will even try to argue otherwise.