Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Around the Rinks: Beantown Beat down – Big Hits & Finger Food

It was another day, another serving of controversy in the NHL on Monday night as the Stanley Cup Final between the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins took another interesting turn.

Game one gave us “The Bite,” in game two it was the guy who probably should have been suspended who scored the overtime winner and game three didn’t disappoint either! The 8-1 Bruins win seemed to have it all – great goaltending (at one end), big hits (including one that should merit a suspension), lots of goals (at the other end) and lots of bad blood.

Let’s start out with the hit that has everyone talking: Vancouver’s Aaron Rome will be speaking with the league on Tuesday after a dirty hit on Boston’s Nathan Horton at the five minute mark of the first period on Monday. Horton took an outlet pass from Zdeno Chara and skated through the neutral zone, dishing the puck to Milan Lucic down the left wing, before being absolutely demolished by Rome in the middle of the ice.

The Canucks defenseman is skating backwards until Horton passes the puck, which is when he decides to step up and put his shoulder right into the head of his opponent. Horton doesn’t have the puck, he doesn’t see him coming and it’s a completely predatory hit in my view.

After being stretchered off the ice, Horton was taken to a local hospital for observation, while Rome was given a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct. If the NHL is as serious about headshots as they still claim to be, they’ll take it a step further and give Rome some time off to think about what he did.

Let’s face it – Alex Burrows should have missed a game for that bite on Patrice Bergeron, so the league better do something this time around.

[UPDATE: The NHL has suspended Rome for four games for the hit, saying it was late, and it caused significant injury. Rome becomes the fifth player in NHL history to be suspended during the Stanley Cup Final. Good call by the league here - there's no way that Rome should play another minute this year. I would have liked to hear them mention that it was a headshot, and the type of hit they're trying to get out of the game, but four games pretty much says that I suppose.]

Speaking of the bite, did you see the Bruins players taking a page out of Maxim Lapierre's book and taunting the Canucks?

Mark Recchi was the first one to do it, targeting Lapierre himself with a couple of gloved fingers to the mouth. Later on the in the game, Milan Lucic got into it with Burrows and basically dared him to have a taste:

Never mind that stuff though – did you see the hit by Bruins goalie Tim Thomas on Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin in the third period? After a Boston giveaway the puck pops up in the air, Sedin goes to corral it and Thomas just steps right into him at the top of his crease. Amazingly, Sedin still manages to find a way to embellish his fall by throwing his legs up in the air like he’s trying to breakdance:

What a hit! As much as I like that hit though, I hate that goalies are allowed to get rough like that but players aren’t allowed to lay a finger on them at any time. Can you imagine the conversation we would be having if Henrik Sedin skated to the top of the crease and decked Tim Thomas?

What do you think: Should the NHL suspend Aaron Rome, and if so, for how long?

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