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Continuing a night of controversial hits, Andrew Shaw of the Chicago Blackhawks had a high-velocity, helmet-to-mask collision with Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith with 12:49 left in the second period.
Smith remained down on the ice for a considerable amount of time, but remained in the game. Shaw was given a 5-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. The Coyotes scored on the ensuing power play, on a goal by Antoinne Vermette, to take a 3-2 lead.
A few thoughts:
1. Shaw didn't exactly avoid contact, but we'd err on the side of this being an accidental play rather some vicious, intentional head shot. If nothing else, Shaw looked like he was trying to close off the passing lane.
It's still significant contact between a skater and a goalie, and should have been penalized. The rule for charging a goalie:
A goalkeeper is not "fair game" just because he is outside the goal crease area. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an opposing player makes unnecessary contact with a goalkeeper. However, incidental contact, at the discretion of the Referee, will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.
It was incidental contact, but should have been a minor. A major carries with it an automatic game misconduct, and that's why he was ejected.
2. This penalty is clearly linked to Smith staying down as long as he did. As Elliotte Friedman of CBC Sports reported before the playoffs:
Get ready to see more officials conferences after scores when there's contact with the goalies. After the GM meetings, a memo was sent to all referees and linesman to consult with one another to make sure they get it right. For example, linesman will be allowed to tell referees if it should be no goal because there was a penalty on the play, even though they're not allowed to call one. Just the same, if one of them sees a defender was responsible for pushing an attacker into the net, the goal can stand.
While this was more geared toward goals being disallowed, the officials consulted on the Shaw penalty as Smith was down.
3. How did Smith stay in this game? Seriously, how?
He was flat on the ice, having collided head to head with another player. He has a history of concussions. Yes, the trainers gave him the once over on the ice. But if the hit was vicious enough for Shaw to leave the game, then it should be enough to have Smith leave for a bit for concussion testing.
Like Lambert indicated on Friday: It's one thing to talk about player safety, and another to actually make it more important than a playoff game.
"It sucks when that kind of stuff happens, but I'm just glad that he was OK," Shaw said. "He went to play the puck and his stick came up towards my face. I tried to get out of the way of it and unfortunately made a little contact."
And from Jonathan Toews:
Hawks captain Jonathan Toews conferred with the on-ice officials while Smith lay on the ice and Shaw sat in the penalty box. Toews said the referees took Smith's condition into account when deciding to give Shaw more than a two-minute minor.
"I don't know if it came down to whether the officials thought Smith was going to stay in the game or not," Toews said. "Obviously, they thought he was done and that's probably why we got the five-minute penalty."
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