While there’s no debating the fact that Michael Del Zotto elbowed James Neal late in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2-1 shootout win against the New York Rangers on Friday, there’s plenty of debate about his intent.
Del Zotto told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he was just bracing himself during the collision, but admitted that the NHL might perceive the exchange differently.
“I think they just dumped (the puck) in, and I knew I was going to get hit on the forecheck,” Del Zotto said. “I just tried to kind of reverse hit and brace myself. I’m not sure exactly what happened.”
The Penguins provided mix reactions. Head coach Dan Bylsma didn’t really give the 22-year-old defenseman a free pass and didn’t provide a lot of detail about Neal’s status.
“Don’t have an update right now,” Bylsma said. “I don’t think there is any question what the contact was and where (Del Zotto) made contact.”
Depth forward Craig Adams was a bit more diplomatic.
“I can’t say that it was intentional. But the fact is, he elbowed him right in the chin. That’s not good,” Adams said. “You have to give the refs the benefit of the doubt. If they would have seen it, they would have called it.”
Either way, a Neal injury could be a dirty blow to the Penguins’ chances.
Check out the video one more time:
As PHT’s mentioned before, the Florida Panthers stand as a fascinating contrast between youth and experience.
Let’s not kid ourselves, though; fresh faces usually beat out gray beards, at least when it comes to teams that are still trying to build toward contender status.
While it’s by no means official, two Panthers beat writers – the Miami Herald’s George Richards and the Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov – report that the Panthers are likely to pass on Martin Havlat.
It wasn’t just about the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad leading the charge. Other young Panthers (maybe most notably Quinton Howden and Connor Brickley) made the team, thus making Havlat less necessary.
One would assume that it might be tough for the 34-year-old to find work, at least if he insists upon only an NHL deal.
Health issues continue to dog him, but he’s no longer one of those guys who tantalizes with talent when he is healthy enough to play.
Havlat also doesn’t really bring much to the table defensively. While other veterans can kill penalties and show a little more verstaility, Havlat’s greatest selling point is scoring.
Could this be it for a solid career that may nonetheless end with a “What if?” or two?
Considering all of the controversy surrounding the 41-game suspension for Raffi Torres, some might have lost track of the guy who received that hit: Jakob Silfverberg.
The good news is that, at the moment, it seems like he’s OK.
The Anaheim Ducks announced that he skated on his own and will be involved in the team’s next practice:
That falls in line with some of the fall-out from the hit, as head coach Bruce Boudreau let out a relieved “thank goodness” at the young forward seemingly dodging a bullet.
Here’s video of the hit and the suspension decision:
Silfverberg, 24, enjoyed a nice breakout in 2014-15, especially during the playoffs.
Keep in mind that injuries can sometimes crop up later than expected, especially potential head injuries/concussions. Still, it seems like the initial reaction is that the damage was minimal.