Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau went on record this morning after today's very optional practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex that Marc Staal's hit on Mike Green -- just before Alex Ovechkin's goal late in the second period of Sunday's 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers -- was a dirty hit and targeted Green's head, only three games returned from a lengthy absence due to concussion symptoms from another elbow blow, that one from Rangers rookie forward Derek Stepan.

Here's what the coach had to say about it: 
“It was to the side of the head and it was a dirty shot. I hope the league looks at it.  Let’s face it, I’m listening to all the experts last night on the [Raffi] Torres hit on [Brent] Seabrook, they’re all saying there’s no puck. It’s not a hockey play. The guy’s in a vulnerable position and he hits the head. That’s exactly what we’re trying to get out of the league.

And Staal comes in, there’s no puck, he takes his arm, he swings it at [Green’s] head, but it’s all forgotten because we score a goal to tie the game up. But it shouldn’t be forgotten and it wasn’t the only time they targeted Mike’s head.  They targeted it a few times. That’s what we want to get out of the game.”
There's a lot of rhetoric from coaches during the playoffs.  Boudreau's comments earlier this morning about MSG not being as loud as Verizon Center and being dilapidated probably deserved to be filed under that category.

But re-watch the video of Ovechkin's goal. 


First, Ovechkin is clearly and deliberately tripped around the blue line and a very clear expletive is captured. 

But at the 0:10 mark, Green distributed the puck, then Staal clearly hits Green in the head with his elbow.  Green seemed to sense the hit was coming but was unable to avoid the collision.  Green got up to join the goal celebration, but Boudreau is right in one thing: these are the hits the league needs to legislate out of the game.

Maybe Staal wasn't targeting Green's head on the hit and that's just where his elbow ended up.  But it sure looks to me like Staal purposefully stuck his elbow out to strike Green in the head.  You can hear Doc Emrick say "He's hurt," referring to Green, as Ovechkin beats Henrik Lundqvist for the goal.

Considering Green got up and continued to play in the game, if there's even a review of the play I'd be shocked of there was any punishment for this play.  But considering Green missed a quarter of the season with a head injury and a player on the Rangers -- the same team that caused the injury in the first place -- targeted his head in just Green's third game back, a review is completely warranted.

It's exactly plays like these that the league made a very public display of apparent serious concern about earlier this season.  Until these plays are treated the same way plays in which the player sustains injury are, consider the NHL's policy nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell.

Regardless of the league's review of this play, the Caps need to take matters into their own hands. 

The Rangers had the better of the physical play Sunday all around, including instigating contact on goalie Michal Neuvirth anytime they had the chance, with no repercussions whatsoever.  Sure, the refs "warned" the Rangers to avoid contacting the goalie, but there were no calls.  Why stop if there's no penalty for doing it?

If the referees aren't going to penalize the Rangers for these plays, then someone on the Caps needs to step up and protect his goalie, but do it smartly.  I'm not calling for vigilante justice for a Caps player to injure someone on the Rangers.  But you gotta fight fire with fire, and Lundqvist needs to be bumped once or twice early on Wednesday, just to let him know that Caps are there.

And Mike Green better keep his head up.  Because like I said, if there's no penalty, they aren't going to stop.

11 comments

  1. Anonymous // April 18, 2011 at 3:27 PM  

    Are you serious? This is obviously lobbying and stems more from the PPs the Rangers got in game 3 than a legitimate gripe.

    Marc Staal isn't a dirty player and isn't known for head hunting. While Green may have been hit in the head (can't really tell elbow or not from the replay), it seems to me that Staal was trying to check him while preventing him from getting the loose puck. More than anything I thought the positioning leads to a hockey play and not a head hunting hit.

    Caps got two soft PPs after scrums in the first game. BB wanted the same calls again. It's hard to be objective but I think it's fair to say within a series both teams attempt to get away with as much as possible. If the game is being called the same way for both teams, it will even out throughout the series. Gamesmanship v dirty is sometimes on that fine line but realistically Ovie got away with cross-checks throughout that game.

    It's a hockey game and I'm sure most guys, Staal included ,would not want to seriously injury someone else. Bottom line more hot air/lobbying by the BB than a legitimate gripe. Reporter wasn't doing his job by not following up the question and pointing out the absurdity of BB's accusation.

  2. Dave Nichols // April 18, 2011 at 3:49 PM  

    Anon: thanks for the comment. you're entitled to your opinion. not knowing your rooting affiliation, it's interesting to hear a differing opinion, much like there was differeing opinion on the Torres/Seabrook hit. i guess it goes back to what kind of hockey game you want to watch.

    to me, whether it was intentional or not (and i leave that possibility open), it's still a hit to the head and, in my opinion, everything should be done to eliminate these hits. accidents happen, but Staal goes out of his way to get his flipper up to hit Green, regardless of where he hit him. he should be responsible for where it lands.

  3. Anonymous // April 18, 2011 at 8:01 PM  

    Marc Staal is not, and will never be a dirty player. He is simply a hard working. There are always going to be calls that are missed, or penalities that seem a bit ridiculous. It will always go both ways, sometimes for the best for one team, or vice versa. The bottom line is that the refs don't allow too much anymore. They are on top of the players, especially for the head hunting. You, just like you're team, seem to whine at every call that is made on you, and every non-call for the Rangers. A call is a call, its not going to be dismissed if Ovi complains, because thats all he did. I watched him skate to the ref after every call. The refs led an even game on Sunday, and have all series.

    Oh and Dear Boudreau, I'll make it extra loud on Wednesday, just for you. And nice low blow at the worlds most famous arena. Its hysterical when you trash talk MSG. And what pill did you pop when you claim the Cap's arena is louder then the garden? Ha, were you wearing ear plugs on sunday??

  4. Dave Nichols // April 18, 2011 at 8:09 PM  

    anon: if you've ever read anything i've written previously, which I'm sure you haven't, i am not a ref basher normally. and I'm not really bashing the refs or "whining" as you claim here.

    but i believe very strongly that the league needs to reduce the amount of hits to the head.

    i don't care that you claim Staal is not a dirty player, nor did i once say that or even imply it, and i don't think that it's pertinent to the discussion.

    even if accidental, this is a clear blow to the head, and as such, should be reviewed, in my opinion.

    again, you're entitled to your opinion.

  5. moose // April 18, 2011 at 11:58 PM  

    Your are right about the fact that Staal hit Green in the head, and every player knows not to target the head. Still, intentions are another matter. Regardless of whether Staal has a history of such hits (as some use this as a means to diminish the hit itself), he knows better, as do all players in this league. You arr spot on about the fact it was a Rangers player who elbowed Green in the head earlier in the season causing a concussion and Green missing many games. No doubt in my mind of two points here: the Rangers do play a physical game bordering on dirty play, and the NHL is not serious about getting rid of head shots. Hypocrisy reigns.

  6. Anonymous // April 19, 2011 at 11:48 AM  

    It's surprising that a play where the player jumps back up and never misses a shift can get press. It certainly didn't seem malicious, as in the case of Ovechkin trying to snap Fedotenko in half with a crosscheck. The guy seems to leave his feet on every check.

    It does come across like the Pens complaining about head shots in the league...

  7. Jamie @ Mike Green Fan // April 19, 2011 at 11:57 AM  

    I say it's a bit of both, because it's true they are targeting Green, but that has always been the case since Green has become a superstar a few years ago, all teams tell their players to hit him hard, he's their most talented player along with Ovechkin and Backstrom, but he's an easier target to hit than those two.

    I also think it is Lobbying by Boudreau because it will make the refs call the borderline calls, and it's playoff season, that's what you have to expect from a coach, if he didn't do it then he wouldn't be doing his job!

  8. Anonymous // April 19, 2011 at 1:50 PM  

    I don't see the article mentioning anywhere about the slash to the face of Marc Staal behind the play by Ovechkin? hmmmmmm

    "Staal did not complain about the shot to the head that he took from Ovechkin in the second period yesterday, a two-hand stick jab to the jaw that came while everyone else was headed up the ice and the officials all were looking the other way. That one was right in front of the press box."

  9. Anonymous // April 19, 2011 at 2:36 PM  

    Pause the video just as Staals hitting Green. his elbow is BY HIS SIDE!!! He did not raise his elbow until after the hit. Green started dropping to the ice before the hit to avoid it. If he had stayed up and tried to hit Stall there never would have been a hit to the head.

  10. Dave Nichols // April 19, 2011 at 3:53 PM  

    it looks to me like Green is turning back to his right to track the puck, which is now behind him in the faceoff circle, and Staal reaches out and hits him in the head. i guess it all depends on how you're looking at things.

  11. Anonymous // April 19, 2011 at 8:08 PM  

    Whether Staal is a dirty player or not....and I think of him as clean....he did several things in the game that looked dirty to me. But that's beside the point - intentional or not, it was a hit to the head, enough to obviously cause him pain. Suspension is called for because that's exactly what they are trying to get out of the game.