The most absurd stat of the 2013-14 NHL season, coming into Saturday's action: through 72 games, Ryan O'Reilly had yet to take a single penalty. He was the first player since Butch Goring in 1980-81 go 70 games into the season without one.
It was madness. This isn't some fourth liner who barely gets a sniff. This is a guy that's seen over 1400 minutes of ice time this year, much of it against the top players in the league. And he's somehow been without sin.
Until Saturday. In Colorado's 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks, which clinched a playoff spot for the young club, O'Reilly finally became ineligible to cast the first stone after being whistled for an infraction, and a pretty silly one at that. The center's first minor of the year was for playing with a broken stick. Seriously.
At 8:49 of the third period, with the Avalanche clinging to a one-goal lead, O'Reilly's stick broke on a faceoff. Before he dropped it, he kicked the puck to the corner.
The whistle blew immediately, which is fair. If you're kicking the puck, you know your stick is broken, and if you know, you're supposed to drop it. Here's the penalty, via Reddit:
One hopes this wanton act of malfeasance isn't enough to screw up his Lady Byng candidacy.
"That's an unfortunate penalty," O'Reilly admitted after the game. "I should have been smarter with what I was doing."
But really, it wasn't even his fault. Blame Brodie Brazil, who tweeted this before the game:
— Brodie Brazil (@brodiebrazilCSN) March 29, 2014
For shame, Brodie Brazil. For shame.
Fortunately, O'Reilly seemed more torn up about putting the Avalanche down at a critical moment in the game than losing his blamelessness. In fact, he seemed a little relieved about his first minor.
"It's nice to have that out of the way. i don't have to talk about it too much anymore."
In addition to losing O'Reilly's perfect season, the Avalanche also lost Matt Duchene to a knee injury in the first period. That's probably almost as distressing for Colorado.