So Carkner wasted no time exacting his pound of flesh Saturday night, roughing up Boyle for a second before coldcocking him twice followed by a series of gratuitous body shots at ice level. Boyle's man-handling of Karlsson in the series opener set the stage for this incident, which many have argued was a deserved response. Maybe so, Carkner was just doing his job right?
But I honestly couldn't help but feel watching it live that there was a tinge of Bertuzzi on Moore to the proceedings. Obviously the consequences here were a lot less severe, but it's not like a Matt Carkner punch hasn't done severe damage to a New York Ranger before. Paul MacLean and the Senators chose their words carefully in the lead up to and after the game saying little more than they wanted to be "more physical". Whether's that's by design or coincidence who knows, but with the dirty laundry being aired in the NFL of late you have to think this is something they were at least cognizant of.
Beyond the morality? of what Carkner did was the immediate in-game consequence - a five-minute major assessed to open the period. Graeme in the post below explained pretty convincingly that the team appeared real determined to kill that penalty for Carks. But...failure to do so could of quickly buried the team, brutal Ranger power-play be damned. Would anyone be praising Carkner if New York had swiftly put two up on the board three minutes into the game? Or maybe we'd hear bitching about the instigator rule instead.
In the end Ottawa won the game so Carkner's actions have been validated as crucial to sparking the win, while sending the message the Senators will not be fucked with (Carl Hagelin yet to receive that broadcast). I'm not sure anyone can say this incident had any material impact on the game save getting Carkner and Dubinsky ejected. The Murray's are old-time hockey, and even though he came out of a very modern Detroit organization I think we're beginning to see MacLean concurs on some level. All the while Melnyk is left to argue not very persuasively that he's as big an advocate of elimininating "goons" as there is in the league. Mario Lemieux in a similiar spot today.
As for Shanahan's work on this series, I thought he got the Hagelin suspension right. And while it probably shouldn't have played into his decision you have to think the Wolski non-suspenion on Alfredsson was playing in the back of his mind - optics everybody. Carkner in my opinion got off light, especially after the convincing case Shanny made on video for a comparable past transgression. Factor in the player is a #6 d-man at best, and this had the makings of a statement ruling right in the league's wheelhouse. Weird.
Mostly I just hope the rest of the series has fewer shenanigans and more skilled players making skilled plays, you know playoff hockey. I would also accept Torts being dumb enough to put John Scott in his lineup.
This piece was a good dose of moderation, but I'm still of the view that inconsistent officiating and supplemental discipline are the main challenges to player safety in the NHL. The NHL's Official Rules are fairly comprehensive and if applied properly would have prevented this Carkner-Boyle fiasco. The Rules prevent Carkner from attacking Boyle, but they equally prevent Boyle from attacking Karlsson and Crosby from attacking anything wearing the colour orange. The issue as I see it is that the referees refuse to penalize plenty of conduct that clearly violates the Rules.It creates a high degree of uncertainty that allows players like Boyle and Carkner to take a calculated risk that they will not be subject to any discipline.
The problem now is that it's too late in the season for the officials, either on their own or on direction by the league, to start applying the rules the way they are meant to be applied.
@fmblair If Boyle had his penalty for mini-punching Karlsson and Karlsson did not get a roughing penalty for Boyle mini-punching Karlsson, we would not be having this discussion. Konopka would not be fined $2500 and the Sens $10000. I don't want the refs to smother a game but they do need to control the craziness.
I don't think it is too late. Call everything in the first 5 minutes and the players will get the idea. They could even warn the teams that they are about to do that.
I just don't want to be stuck watching repeats of the women's games with Scott, unless he has the beer.
@fmblair Have to love the NHL for being the only major sports that has its rules and its thresholds change once the playoffs begin.
My impression, and that may be all that it is, is that the Senators of old let teams walk over them. I was willing to lose the game to remove that impression. Perhaps it helps that I struggle to believe that we have enough to take the Cup that I am willing to have the team make a statement. Sure, I can accept it is perhaps a bit of an overstatement but it seems to me to make good some times where no statement was made, like the NYR hit on Alfie earlier this season.
Hmm, and my browser, Chrome, seems to think Alfie is a spelling error. I better fix that.