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Halfway through the third period in Sunday's Penguins-Lightning game, Vinny Lecavalier jumped Evgeni Malkin from behind and landed some punches. Then during the scrum, Lecavalier landed one more punch before they were separated. Lecavalier was got four minutes for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct. Was that enough to cover it, or should there be extra discipline for the 'sucker punch?'
Brent: The two-minute differential plus the 10-minute misconduct assessed to Vincent Lecavalier on this play was sufficient and no further discipline will or should result.
The misconduct penalty was assessed to Lecavalier for failure to stop his involvement in the altercation when ordered to do so by the officials; instead Vinnie chose to throw a sucker punch to the jaw of Evgeni Malkin.
A lack of discipline demonstrated by the Lightning captain, one of their best offensive threats, is not acceptable when the game is on the line with his team down by two goals and almost eight minutes remaining in regulation time.
As frustrating as the season has been for the Tampa Bay Lightning to this point, strong leadership is required from the captain and other veteran players to lead by example if they hope to climb out of the hole they have put themselves in. At the very least it should be their desire to establish a measure of respectability.
Brent - I have a couple of other observations that I would like to provide for you that jumped out at me in this game.
On Friday night's NHL Overtime on NBC Sports I appeared with Bill Patrick and Chris Therien. One of the things we talked about was the need for the remaining group of healthy Penguins to step up and fill the void created by the extended loss through injury of Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal, Kris Letang and others. It was obvious to each of us and stated that Malkin and James Neal had to carry the bulk of the offensive load if the Pens were to survive the playoff race.
On Saturday night against Tampa, James Neal scored his 23rd and 24th goals of the season. Both goals were scored on the power play and both were assisted by Geno.
Malkin then completed a five-point performance and cemented the Penguins' victory with his third goal of the game into an empty net (a natural hat trick) as Vincent Lecavalier watched from the dressing room following their altercation. This is exactly the kind of production that will be required to lead this Penguin team through their injury woes.
I was not impressed with the assessment of coincidental misconduct penalties to Neal and Pavel Kubina at the first stoppage of play following the altercation between Malkin and Lecavalier. Just five seconds had elapsed on the clock and there was very little that took place to warrant misconduct penalties to anyone on the ice let alone the Penguins leading goal scorer and Tampa's steady defenceman.
Misconduct penalties that sent players of this capability to the dressing room with 7:44 remaining in a two-goal game was a major overreaction on the part of the referee and could have had an adverse impact on the game. If the players did something to deserve the misconducts and the referee had been justified in a peace keeping effort to send them to the showers then I would support the calls. That was not the case here.
As playoff races heat up and we move toward the finish line any quick trigger fingers demonstrated by the referees needs to be tempered with solid judgment. Neither James Neal nor Pavel Kubina was going to cause the game or the officials any unforeseen problems on this play. As such they needed to remain in the game.
Vincent Lecavalier earned and deserved his misconduct penalty - James Neal and Pavel Kubina did not.