October 15, 2010
Alex Goligoski's(notes) power-play goal in overtime gave the Pittsburgh Penguins their first win at Consol Energy Center, 3-2 over the New York Islanders; perhaps taking the sting out of one of the worst blown calls in the NHL this year.
Defenseman Kris Letang(notes) was given a 5-minute major for a hit to the head on Blake Comeau(notes), which carries an automatic game misconduct. Josh Bailey(notes) scored on the ensuing power play for the Islanders. One itty bitty problem with this call: He missed Comeau's head. Completely:
Once again, it comes down to politics and aesthetics: Comeau loses his helmet and appears to be injured, although he didn't miss a shift and assisted on the Isles' two goals to tie the game; and referees have been given a mandate to penalize hits to the head. Resetting the rule, which is Rule 48 in your NHL handbook:
48.1 Illegal Check to the Head - A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principle point of contact is not permitted.
48.3 Major Penalty - For a violation of this rule, a major penalty shall be assessed.
48.4 Game Misconduct - An automatic game misconduct penalty shall be assessed whenever a major penalty is assessed under this rule.
48.6 Fines and Suspensions - Any player who incurs a total of two (2) game misconducts under this rule, in either regular League or playoff games, shall be suspended automatically for the next game his team plays. For each subsequent game misconduct penalty the automatic suspension shall be increased by one game. If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion.
Upon seeing the replay, will the NHL rescind the game misconduct like, say, it rescinded Zdeno Chara's(notes) instigator in the playoffs last season? Is a video review on this type of hit the answer, as Nick Kypreos seemed to suggest tonight?
Lambert had a point in his Friday column: The NHL's been imprisoned in a suspension culture that, unfortunately, trickles down to overzealous calls like the one on Letang.