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I have been to a lot of hockey games. I have been to a lot of playoff hockey games. I was at the Rangers-Islanders game in which Chris Simon swung his stick at Ryan Hollweg’s face. I have never been to a game as physical and as mean as there was last night at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers came out hard, but the Senators came out on a mission. That mission was ‘get Brian Boyle.’ Boyle hit Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson. Karlsson, too timid to defend himself, allowed Matt Carkner to fight his battle. Carkner would jump Boyle, starting one heck of a scrap between both teams. Boyle, unable to defend himself after being knocked down on a cheap shot, was taking more shots to the ribs then anywhere else on his body. Brandon Dubinsky did his best to not allow this continue, and even though Boyle was not technically fighting, Dubinsky would be seen as the infamous ‘third man into a fight’ and get ejected from the game. Carkner would be ejected as well for his blatant attack.
Things would continue to be chippy throughout the game.
The Rangers found a way to take the 1-0 lead.
Midway through the 2nd period, Carl Hagelin would take a run at Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, already with history of concussions. Hagelin was hit with an elbowing penalty, and a five minute major at that. Karlsson found a way to bank of a shot off of Michael Del Zotto to tie the game.
Fittingly, Boyle would get a wristshot past Craig Anderson early in the 3rd period. With just around five minutes in regulation, Nick Foligno would tie the game. We had overtime playoff hockey, but the Senators would not allow that to last long and score shortly into OT. Series tied 1-1.
If you noticed, I basically blew through all that information quickly. The score, the result, while important, was basically an afterthought after the game.
The nastiness, the hitting, the cheapshots all really become the storyline of this game. After the game, neither coach would comment on suspensions, hits or anything of the sort. John Tortorella finally caved when asked about Hagelin’s possible suspension for the head shot on Alfredsson. Tortorella said that if Hagelin had to sit a game, Senators defenseman Chris Phillips deserved the same fate for an elbow to the head of Ryan Callahan.
Hagelin does in fact have a meeting with Brendan Shanahan, the head of the player safety, about a possible suspension. Carkner has his suplemental discipline hearing scheduled with the League today as well.
I hate the to be the kind of person that calls out refs, and questions their decisions. I don’t believe in any kind of conspiracy theory, as well. I don’t think Gary Bettman and company are saying to their refs, ‘hey guys, let’s get the Senators into the Finals, ok?’
But the decisions, and no-calls by the refs last night were certainly eye brow raising.
It starts with the Dubinsky call. Factually, a ‘third man in’ gets the call and is out of the game. But if Boyle is not called for fighting, and not even giving a penalty, what’s the call exactly? A guy gets jumped, and a teammate helps him? Brutal.
Erik Karlsson elbows Brad Richards in the head, Richards reacts with a shot to Karlsson, Richards gets called for high sticking. Karlsson, who seems to have a knack to begging for calls and diving all over the ice, also got away with a slash on Callahan later.
Late in the game, the mega talented Zenon Kenopka tackled Richards and headlocked him as well. No call. He also stated after the game that there will be a lot of blood in this series. Something you definitely want to hear from a hockey player.
It goes both ways. Hagelin got away with interference at one point. Callahan took some shots.
Some of these, we can let go.
But it is the inconsistency of the refs that drive me crazy. The diving too. Every time a Senators player hit the ice, he looked for a ref. That said, every time a Rangers player hit the ice, the 18,200 fans at MSG screamed at the ref.
The worse thing the refs do is have impact on games.
This series is going to get ugly. If Alfredsson is in fact done for the series, some fool on the Senators is going to be looking for Hagelin, and perhaps Richards or Gaborik.
I am all about the physical play. Like I said, it’s not a soft sport. But it has to be done the right way.
Moving forward, the Rangers need to match the Senators physical play with a clean style of physical play. We’ve seen it all season, and it is something I expect them to be able to do.
If Hagelin is suspended a game, I would expect Chris Kreider to get his first taste of NHL action.
Henrik Lundqvist again played a very good game, but really had little to no chance of making stops on any of the goals against.
Rangers-Senators on Monday. Should be epic. Let’s hope the refs don’t decide the game, or worse, the series.
The series is now a war. Each team has won one battle each.
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