Unnecessary Hit; Penguins 4, Kings 1

Saturday, March 21, 2009

With just a few seconds left in a game that you're winning, is it really necessary to take a shot to someone's head? Well, Evgeni Malkin thought it was. He gave the cold shoulder to Wayne Simmonds and the whistle blew to end the game. I'm not even upset about the loss. Who gives a shit when someone's head is involved? Who cares if it's the league superstar hitting a rookie's head? In this case, every single Kings fan whereas every Pittsburgh fan probably cheered the hit. But let's talk about questionable acts of unsportsmanlike conduct from the past few days (of which I'm only discussing two because I'm feeling a bit lazy).

(1) Alexander Ovechkin's celebration after he scored his 50th goal of the season. I've read many reactions both for and against. I'm on the fence since he is who he is. He loves to celebrate his teammates' goals as well as his own, but this definitely involved a bit of showboating. He received a talking to by Bruce Boudreau and everyone moves on. Don Cherry's going to have a field day with this one.

(2) Penguins' Malkin laying a hit on Kings' Simmonds with just a few seconds left in a game that the Penguins were going to win. As with Ovechkin, there have been many comments going around about this hit both for and against. Comments like "Get your head up, rookie!" But wait a second, did this person not see that all Simmonds was trying to do was poke the puck away from Malkin? He wasn't going to him to with the intention of hitting him.

Earlier in the game he and Jack Johnson toughed it out in front of the Kings net for a good chunk of time where both players received 2-minutes for roughing. This altercation is a part of the game, but anyone who says that hitting someone else in the head is "a part of hockey" has never had someone on their own team taken a hit to the head. It's not about being an objective observer of every team when you have your specific team that you love; it's about the passion that every single fan brings to the NHL, which is why there will always be cheers and jeers in every situation.

(AP/Joe Sargent)
With Jack severely outweighing Malkin (225 to 195).

In the end, there are going to be comments all over the place with a questionable play such as this one from fans from every region across the US and Canada. But the plain facts are that (1) Simmonds' head was down in going for the poke check while (2) Malkin was defending himself by bracing for some kind of hit that was never going to come. In the end his shoulder goes straight into Simmonds' head. I think the argument of whether he was hit with the shoulder or elbow (legal or illegal) is not the point. The point is that the brunt of the hit was into Simmonds' head.

Malkin is subject to a disciplinary phone call where the resulting decision is to be announced tomorrow. Am I excepting a suspension? Hell no, who has the guts to suspend Malkin? Every situation is unique but I'm not expecting a fair trial here. Everyone has a hard-on for Malkin and the Penguins, so why should anyone care about Simmonds? I'm not saying I don't think the guy deserves punishment; I definitely think he deserves some sort of supplemental discipline. I just don't think the NHL is going to do anything about it considering who both players are.

(AP/Joe Sargent)

Oh yeah, the game. Just some quick notes on an unimpressive outing:
  • It was Justin Williams' first game in a Kings sweater so I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt for this game since the entire team wasn't looking too hot. He had 13:36 minutes on the ice and one shot on net. He also had one recorded giveaway, but it definitely seemed to have happened more than just once.
  • Alexander Frolov was allowed out of the doghouse, but is still chained to it. He had 17 minutes with one shot and one hit.
  • They're definitely not ready for post-season play. The fact that it took a 5-on-3 to get a goal through all the traffic wasn't impressive. Impressive was the Penguins' penalty kill units. Aggressive and quick. They took 11 total penalties (with one as a 10-minute misconduct and others resulting in 4-on-4 play) but they were successful killing virtually all of them.
  • The Kings finally got themselves over 50% in the faceoff circle. They won 60% while the Penguins went just 40%.
  • Dustin Brown made a good showing with 7 hits and 6 shots on net.
(x-posted to HLOG)


Brad March 21, 2009 at 8:14 PM  

Simmonds is black. Doesn't that make the hit racist? Either way it was definitely a cheap shot as Jim Fox mentioned after the game. Give him one game, I say, but probably not with the upcoming NBC broadcast Crosby-fest.

Connie March 22, 2009 at 3:36 PM  

I definitely agreed with Jim Fox on the hit. There's no way else to call it, but there was no way the NHL was going to suspend him. Plain and simple.

Unknown March 23, 2009 at 7:57 AM  

I live in Pittsburgh, so I don't get the chance to see many Kings games. I got to go to this game, though. Why is Murray giving his best winger fourth line duty?? Frolov looked good playing out there, but only came out on the fourth line and for the PK. I don't get it. Has there been any reason given for Frolov being in the dog house??

Connie March 23, 2009 at 5:49 PM  

Hey weberap, thanks for stopping by. Frolov's inconsistency has been called into question of late and I just looked at some updates. Apparently he has been sent back to LA with a "lower body injury." He was having issues with his groin last season, so that might have flared up again. But you're correct, Frolov is one of the top wingers for the Kings and having him play on the 4th line is not where he should be. Hopefully it's not as serious as it was last season...

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