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What's the deal with the penalty that ended the Canucks vs. Sharks series?
Would you have made that call on Daniel Sedin when it was a clear shoulder to shoulder hit and in overtime of a series-deciding game?
Given all the attention and scrutiny on dangerous or reckless hits throughout this season the Referees can't help but factor the "end result" into the equation when determining a boarding call. Let me break this one down for you from an impartial perspective as to why the distance from the boards and method of contact initiated by Daniel Sedin became a "must call" for the Ref to make at any time in the game or series.
The very wording of rule 41 supports the assessment of a boarding call on this play. "A boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously. The severity of the penalty,m based upon the impact with the boards, shall be at the discretion of the Referee... The onus is on the player applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a defenseless position and if so, he must avoid or minimize contact."
Tommy Wingels was square to the net and attempted a shot from the top left circle that was deflected to the sidewall above the hash mark by Daniel Sedin's active stick on the back check. Wingels body position toward the net forced him to make a 3/4 turn to gain the lead lane on the loose puck against the boards. Just as Wingels executed his turn (click here for video link) and was approaching the boards he recognized that contact from Sedin was imminent. Due to the turn I just described, Wingels was not in the same position of strength as Daniel Sedin to brace and push back when Sedin initiated contact some six feet from the side boards.
I keep hearing about shoulder to shoulder contact. Daniel Sedin's approach was much more from behind than the side as Wingles had the lead position. Once the hit was delivered, Daniel finished the shoulder contact with his hands in a slight push motion which aided in Wingles side motion, loss of balance and awkward fall head first into the boards.
In the previous paragraph I said the puck rested above the face-off circle hash mark which is where it was ultimately picked up by twin brother Henrik. Daniel therefore eliminated Tommy Wingels from any opportunity to play the puck near the bottom of the face-off circle; a good dozen feet from where the puck rested.
Tommy Wingels didn't dive head first into the boards, he was deposited there in a very awkward manner. It resulted in large part from Wingles inability to brace and sufficiently push back from the contact delivered by Daniel Sedin given their respective body positions and timing of the hit. Forget any interference that a Referee might avoid calling in overtime on team facing elimination, the violent contact of Wingles head and shoulder with the boards could not be overlooked.
It makes no difference if the back Referee called it or the one 20 feet away; this was a "must call" to make. Had the call not been made there would be no way for me to defend the Referee's decision to avoid it.
"The onus is on the player applying the check to ensiure his opponent is not in a defenseless position and if so, he must avoid or minimize the contact." There was a better course of action for Daniel Sedin to take on this play but certainly not the reason the Canucks lost this series.
San Jose was the better team this time around.