Starting a fight in the final five minutes is a big no-no in the NHL. That’s the lesson Tomas Kopecky should have learned when he received a match penalty for his punch to Michael Del Zotto’s face with only seven seconds left in New York’s 4-1 win over Florida on Friday night. It’s a lesson that should have been reinforced when Mike Rupp took exception and returned the favor with his fists to Kopecky’s face afterwards. It’s a lesson that may conclude with a call from league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. His attendance for Saturday night’s game against Montreal hangs in the balance.
Right now, Rangers fans are probably convinced that the “A” on the front of Kopecky’s sweater doesn’t stand for “alternate captain.”
It’s just another typical Rangers-Penguins game in New York City tonight. This time around, things got a bit heated in the second period with the Rangers trailing 3-2 and a scrum erupting in front of the Rangers bench.
Rangers tough guy Brandon Prust and Penguins forward Jordan Staal came together briefly with Prust roughing up Staal initially. Staal pushed back and then punched Prust in the face with a gloved hand. Prust, however, dropped like a rock to the ice holding his face and getting the Rangers bench on their feet. Staal was assessed a five-minute major and a match penalty for roughing and was sent off for the sucker punch. Prust, got up and was back on the bench after over-selling the punch to draw the penalty.
A match penalty comes with a mandatory one-game suspension unless the NHL rescinds the penalty. The Penguins are slated to face the Islanders tomorrow so whether or not Staal ends up sitting down will be decided tomorrow.
What’s the real issue here is the egregious embellishment of the punch on the part of Prust. Prust earlier fought Penguins tough defenseman Deryk Engelland and took multiple punches to the head from Engelland’s bare fist without dropping like a rock. Either Jordan Staal is a lot stronger than he lets on or Prust needs to win an Academy Award.
Jody Shelley suspended two games for sucker punching Andrew Alberts
Philadelphia will be without their main man enforcer Jody Shelley for two games after being suspended for delivering a sucker punch to Canucks defenseman Andrew Alberts. Shelley will give up nearly $27,000 in salary for the two games.
If you’re the kind of person that enjoys wearing tinfoil on your head and puts a lot of stock in Colin Campbell’s effect on punishment where it involves his son Gregory’s team, you’ll find it interesting that a Boston player was not punished for the offense and a player that has wronged Boston earlier this year gets smacked again by the league.
Of course that’s got nothing to do with anything here but it sure makes for interesting discussion if not a raised eyebrow or two.
Milan Lucic will not be suspended for sucker punch vs. Atlanta
When Milan Lucic of the Bruins helped ignite a line brawl of sorts against the Thrashers after taking a vicious hit from Freddy Meyer, which later saw Lucic sucker punch Meyer, it appeared that Lucic was heading towards an extended Christmas vacation courtesy of the NHL.
Today, the league weighed in on what they thought of Lucic’s actions and it appears they wanted just a little bit of money out of Lucic’s wallet. The league did not suspend Lucic for his sucker punch and instead fined him for his actions including $2,500 for the hit and another $1,000 for an obscene gesture towards the Atlanta bench.
We’d like to say it’s surprising that Lucic wasn’t suspended for his actions, but then again, this is the NHL where anything can happen when either Colin Campbell or Mike Murphy weigh in on these matters. Sucker punches have been given this same treatment before in the past and Bruins fans are likely to recall one such instance.
During the 2009 playoffs, Carolina’s Scott Walker sucker punched Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward in a similar manner and was only fined for his dirty punch. Walker would then go on to score the series-winning goal in Game 7 against Boston in that series. Bruins fans should be happy to know that in this case, the door does swing both ways and irrational punishment can work in their favor.