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With 7:52 left in the first period of the Washington Capitals' NBC-televised game at the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, Alex Ovechkin(notes) pushed defenseman Brian Campbell(notes) into the end boards after he had played the puck. Campbell crashed into the boards and stayed down; Ovechkin was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct, his third gamer of the season. The hit:

In today's dogs and cats living together/mass hysteria moment, NBC commenter (and Public Enemy No. 1 among Caps fans) Mike Milbury defended Ovechkin, because an inherent D.C. bias is secondary to his battle against the "pansification" of hockey.

Coming up: What Milbury said, and what other punishment Ovechkin will see from the NHL.

From NBC between periods, and Pierre McGuire with Milbury:

McGuire: "Do we have a little bit of an overreaction on the Ovechkin hit?"

Milbury: "Sure do ... so much for the ratings this week. OK, give him two minutes. There's so much uncertainty after this Cooke hit on Marc Savard(notes) is Pittsburgh/Boston last Sunday that nobody knows what's a penalty and what's not a penalty. They gotta get to the bottom of this."

McGuire: "That was an overreaction, I thought, by the on-ice officials. At best it's a double minor, not a game misconduct and five minutes."

In defense of the officials, Campbell had released the puck and Ovechkin hit him in the back into the boards, ending the game for the defenseman. In Ovechkin's defense, it was an attempt at a hockey play: There's no intent to injure, nothing involving the head.

McGuire has it right in theory, but there's no minor for boarding or for hitting from behind. Maybe four for charging? The gamer was overkill, but the refs' hands might have been tied by the rulebook.

(Ed. Note: There is a minor for boarding as per Rule 42.2 but there isn't a double-minor for boarding. Read the "checking from behind" rule twice. And forget charging as the boards were involved.)

But the gamer is important, because it's Ovechkin's third of the season (to lead all players) and second for boarding. That means he will be suspended by the letter of the law:

23.5 Fines and Suspensions - Stick Infractions, Boarding and Checking from Behind Category - In regular League games, any player or goalkeeper who incurs a total of two (2) game misconduct penalties for stick-related infractions, Boarding - Rule 42, or Checking from Behind - Rule 44, shall be suspended automatically for the next League game of his team. For each subsequent game misconduct penalty, the automatic suspension shall be increased by one game.

Clear cut supplemental punishment. What a concept, huh, GMs working on blindside hit legislation?

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