Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry Fraser wants to answer your emails at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Hey Kerry - Love the column. Just wanted to ask about a hit in last night's Caps/Rangers overtime game. Mike Green was pursuing the puck at full speed in his defensive zone along the right boards while killing a penalty and won the race to the puck with Dan Girardi flying down the boards heading straight to Green. Green cleared the puck down the ice and was then leveled by Girardi. It was clear to me that Girardi jumped and left the ice to deliver the hit although it did seem as if no contact was made to the head. I still feel this should have been a charging penalty as Girardi did "leave his feet" (OK, his feet were still attached to his body, but you know what I mean). No call was made that would have evened up on-ice manpower and the Rangers then scored the winning PP goal. Do you think a charging penalty should have been called there? Thanks again for the column and keep up the great work!
Plainview, Long Island, NY.
I have to agree with my good friends Mike Emrick and Pierre McGuire as they correctly reported the big collision between Dan Girardi and Mike Green (video link) from their respective NBC broadcast positions. It was a legal body check in my books as well, in spite of the fact that Giradi's skates came slightly off the ice through impact. We never want to take this form of body contact out of the game.
Both Girardi and Green were accountable and made responsible decisions as they entered a footrace from different directions for a loose puck at the half-wall in the Caps end zone. Pierre nailed it when he said that Mike Green took a hit to make the play and he knew it was coming. Green became extremely aware of his environment as he scanned the horizon while in pursuit of the puck. Mike Green was not only searching for his outlets but also to detect any incoming Ranger missiles. To Green's credit he never slowed or bailed but instead took the hit from Dan Girardi straight up after making a great play to clear the puck from his end zone.
On the other side of the play, Dan Girardi approached the puck and Green with speed. Knowing that he would lose the race to the puck, Girardi's decision to make a legal body check was, in part, made possible by his set up and angle of attack. Prior to impact, Dan Girardi made a great decision to move off center of Green's body mass and utilize shoulder to shoulder contact on his opponent to totally avoid Green's head.
There was no elevation of Girardi's elbow before, during or after he made contact with his opponent. Instead, a tightly wrapped body package was maintained by Girardi as a "targeted" shoulder impact point was utilized by the NY Rangers stud defenceman. If more players make responsible decisions when delivering body checks such as this one by Dan Girardi, Brendan Shanahan and his Player Safety Committee will have a greatly diminished work load. That is something we can all hope for!
This was a great defensive play by Mike Green; a highly responsible decision that resulted in a tremendous body check by Dan Girardi; and a superb decision by the referee(s) not to overreact to the impact of the hit or the fact that Girardi's skates came slightly off the ice at contact. I'll accept that little bit of "bad" anytime (blades off the ice) considering all the "good" that resulted.
This form of legal body checking is the foundation of the game. Move off the head and next we can work on keeping the skates firmly planted on the ice.
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