EDMONTON — Oilers captain Connor McDavid isn’t too upset. Apart from a number of occasions a season, he doesn’t are likely to trigger a lot pleasure when answering reporters’ questions.
The moments following Wednesday’s 4-1 Recreation 4 win – a win that leveled the sequence with the Golden Knights – was a kind of uncommon exceptions. And for a great purpose.
McDavid did his greatest to maintain his composure, but it surely wasn’t arduous to see that he was genuinely seething with anger.
He had simply watched as his pal Leon Draisaitl – the McCartney to his Lennon – lay face down on the ice, the results of a smashing punch from Golden Knights defender Alex Pietrangelo at 18:33 of the third interval.
“It’s the final word doable harm intent,” McDavid stated. “Time, consequence, clock all play a task.
“He comes over his personal head and locations it proper underneath Leon’s chin. One want to see one thing like that suspended. This isn’t a hockey recreation.”
McDavid is correct right here. If that’s not a violation worthy of a ban, it’s arduous to know what’s.
It cannot be stated in any other case. Pietrangelo has to sit down out recreation 5.
There have been no damaged bones – no less than so far as we all know – however the best way Pietrangelo attacked Draisaitl wasn’t far faraway from Bobby Clarke’s notorious two-handed assault on Valeri Kharlamov.
Let’s undergo all the problems.
Not solely did Pietrangelo’s woodcutter shot come a bit late, it additionally landed on an empty Vegas internet lengthy after Draisaitl’s missed backhand that there was a sluggish rely of three earlier than the contract was signed.
McDavid stated the blow nearly hit Draisaitl within the face. It appeared prefer it hit Draisaitl’s left arm or hand. Both approach, in accordance with McDavid, this stinks of somebody attempting to take out not simply any participant, however a participant who has a traditionally superb playoff.
Just like Clarke with Kharlamov: in the event you can’t cease him, harm him.
What Pietrangelo did wasn’t a spontaneous mistake in a puck combat. It was calculated and merciless.
“The league wants to have a look at this intently,” stated Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. “We all know what he’s attempting to do.
“We’re 4-1 up at this level. It’s the tip of the sport. He’s taking a liberty.”
The NHL Division of Participant Security’s choice to not droop Pietrangelo for Recreation 5 would undermine the decision of Wednesday evening’s recreation officers, specifically Referee Chris Rooney.
Rooney gave Pietrangelo a severe penalty and recreation misconduct, a call confirmed after video overview. There is no such thing as a doubt that this was the appropriate choice.
However with the clock all the way down to 1:27 in a one-sided recreation, Pietrangelo’s penalty was basically meaningless.
Permitting Pietrangelo to hold the sport on Friday evening means he will get away with it.
Dropping Pietrangelo for any size of time could be an enormous blow to the Golden Knights. He’s averaged 24:37 within the playoffs, 4 minutes greater than some other teammate. It’s additionally now a best-of-three sequence. These video games are very important.
That shouldn’t play an element within the equation in any respect.
Thought-about one of the best defender within the enterprise, Cale Makar is so athletic that he refused a penalty in opposition to an opponent this season. He was additionally suspended for Recreation 5 of Colorado’s first-round sequence in opposition to Seattle after injuring Jared McCann with a late aim within the earlier competitors.
The Avalanche misplaced Recreation 5 with out Makar, dropping the sequence in seven video games. A pity; so unhappy.
It’s not arduous to argue that what Pietrangelo did to Draisaitl is worse than Makar’s punch at McCann.
It’s generally tough to guage intention on the ice, but it surely’s not arduous to see it as something apart from Pietrangelo attempting to harm an opponent – and injuring him badly.
“It was a fairly soiled recreation,” stated Nick Bjugstad. “In case you watch the video, he’s useless for a number of seconds. It’s not like he’s attempting to make a hockey recreation.
“I’m simply grateful that Leon is doing properly.”
For a second or two, nonetheless, it appeared like he wasn’t. That’s clearly what sparked McDavid.
He was so offended he practically fought Pietrangelo – which might have been his first combat since McDavid broke his hand when he was 17 within the Ontario Hockey League. With the assistance of linesmen Brad Kovachik and Matt MacPherson, he resisted that urge.
McDavid stated he and the Oilers had greater fish to fry. In fact, which means successful two of the subsequent three video games, taking out the Golden Knights and furthering their Stanley Cup ambitions.
With out Draisaitl this is able to be rather more tough.
“Clearly we don’t prefer it,” McDavid stated. “We have now responded.”
It’s now as much as the League’s Participant Safety Division to do their job correctly and reply accordingly.
(Photograph by Leon Draisaitl: Andy Devlin / NHLI through Getty Pictures)