Here in our little puck corner of the internet, there are going to be few exercises this week more fraught than having an opinion on this. So let’s do it and then yell at each other!
It was a...busy night for T.J. Oshie, who left the game twice for two separate injuries, returned after each, and scored the winning goal in a 2-1 Caps win over the Penguins. The second injury was a scary one, a shoulder to the head from Evgeni Malkin that sent him to the locker room to undergo the concussion protocol, which he passed. Here’s the hit:
Malkin received a major and a game misconduct, so his night was done. Said Caps coach Todd Reirden:
“That’s definitely a blow to the head,” Reirden said. “That’s why we had to have T.J. leave and go through a concussion protocol. Those are things we’re trying to remove from the game.”
The only thing I’m absolutely certain of here is that if I were a Capitals fan I’d be frothing for Malkin to have the book thrown at him and if I were a Penguins fan I’d be annoyed he even got tossed last night.
What I think is that this was largely accidental; Oshie wasn’t trying to hit Malkin, but was skating on a trajectory that very plausibly made Malkin think he was, so he braced himself and stuck out a shoulder—not necessarily conscious acts—and it just happened to catch Oshie flush. Bad luck, yet also a violation of Rule 48, which governs illegal checks to the head. But even that is at least debatable, given how you interpret the rulebook’s definition of “avoidable.”
Cousin to DoPS’s ever-controversial struggle with punishing action vs. outcome is the question over connections between action vs. intent. Malkin did a bad thing but without malice, I believe. So does Oshie.
“He got over the blue line and went to make a drop pass and my read was to let him skate by, jump around and go pressure the guy on the blue line there,” Oshie said. “He maybe thought I was coming to hit him and so he threw the reverse shoulder out there, which I try to do that all the time. I did it at least once tonight.”
Malkin’s ejection was proper punishment, and missing the majority of the third period in a close game the Penguins ultimately lost was punishment enough. No supplemental discipline needed or warranted. [Bangs gavel]
Update: No suspension.