November 26, 2011
Late in the third period Saturday night, Max Pacioretty(notes) of the Montreal Canadiens lined up Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang(notes) as he took a shot on Carey Price(notes). The result: Contact with the head, Letang bloodied, and no penalty on the play.
You be the judge:
Clearly, Pacioretty was getting revenge on behalf of Carey Price's goalie stick …
Slow it down, watch it a few times. Does Letang know Pacioretty is there? He looks straight at him. Is it a headshot? It's close: Pacioretty appears to make contact with both the head and shoulder, but one can argue that the head is the principal point of contact.
Rule 48, once more with feeling:
A hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted. However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was avoidable, can be considered.
Our verdict: It's a dangerous hit by Pacioretty, deserved a penalty and should garner supplemental discipline. Letang was in a vulnerable position; we imagine Brendan Shanahan's(notes) Dept. of Player Safety would categorize that as a hit that doesn't need to be made.
(And save your "Pacioretty should know better" crap. He didn't slam Letang's head into the turnbuckle. As reader Matthew Higgins pointed out, it's not as if Patches hasn't gone high before.)
But there's another variable that Shanahan considers in his rulings: Injuries. According to Arpon Basu of NHL.com, "Letang broke his nose on that hit, had a pin put in, came out and won the game."
Letang was bloodied, but he wasn't beaten. In fact, he came back for the overtime between the Penguins and Canadiens.
In fact, he scored the game-winning goal in the Penguins' 4-3 victory, on a play that set off Price:
Either Carey Price never had that puck frozen or that's the make-up call of the year.
We'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the Pacioretty hit in the comments; suspension or no?
UPDATE: Letang said after the game that he was given a concussion test in the back, and that Pacioretty apologized to him (via Hockey Inside/Out):