The Canadiens sure did learn their lesson from Game 1 against the Jets: don’t try to score an empty-net goal, because that apparently is justification for trying to remove someone’s head from his body.
That’s really a way that former NHL defenseman Mike Commodore tried to victim-blame Jake Evans for Mark Scheifele’s monstrous hit on Thursday night. Because the NHL doesn’t care about having its postseason overshadowed by borderline criminal behavior on the ice, won’t until someone dies as a result of it — and maybe not even then — Scheifele only got a four-game suspension. The league couldn’t even say “rest of the series.” Just four games — and even that came as a bit of a surprise for how hard the league came down.
Scheifele then came out on Friday and complained that the suspension was “excessive,” which contradicts his claim that “I can accept the accountability.” He also called out people who have harassed his family members in the past couple of days over the hit, calling it “bullying.”
People’s behavior toward athletes and their families lately, as fans have started attending games again, has been gross, and definitely needs to be addressed. Canadiens fans going over the line after a brutal hit also is nothing new — 10 years ago, Montreal’s police had to plead with people to stop calling emergency lines to call for Zdeno Chara to be arrested. So, it’s not that it isn’t believable that Scheifele’s family has been targeted with abuse.
That said, it comes off as cynical, a guy who put someone on a stretcher with a generationally dirty hit trying to change the conversation to make himself the victim.
So, on Friday night, leading again in the final minutes in Winnipeg, the Habs smartly did not score into the empty net, riding Carey Price through the closing stages of his 30-save shutout to a 2-0 series lead.
Montreal now stands two wins away from doing what the NHL was too craven to do and sending Scheifele on summer vacation — along with the rest of the Jets.