Hockey world reacts to controversial Steve Bernier check

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The 2011 Stanley Cup finals had Aaron Rome’s hit on Nathan Horton, yet this year’s unforgettable – and controversial – hit might just top that. New Jersey Devils forward Steve Bernier’s check from behind on Los Angeles Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi resulted in an ejection for Bernier, a five-minute major for his team to kill and eventually three goals for the Kings.

Naturally, it also generated a ton of chatter among hockey fans and experts. Here’s a collection of some of the most interesting Twitter reactions.

Burning Bernier

Even minor mistakes tend to generate some great Twitter quips, so one can only imagine the mockery Bernier produced tonight. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but Down Goes Brown’s James Bond-inspired punishment was one of the highlights:

“Breaking: Steve Bernier has been suspended. Not by Brendan Shanahan – by his teammates, with frayed wires, over a tank of sharks.”

To little surprise, many made sarcastic jokes about Bernier deserving a bizarro Conn Smythe. Jason Botchford probably brought the deftest touch to that meme, though.

“Bernier takes his run at Conn Smythe. Late, of course, and from behind.”

In less sardonic Tweets, Corey Masisak expresses some sadness that the Devils’ great fourth line play will likely be overshadowed by that check.

Spreading the blame

One thing that could easily get lost in the Bernier-blaming shuffle is that – obviously – he wasn’t on the ice as the Devils’ vaunted PK allowed three goals during that major penalty. With that in mind, people such as Seth Rorabaugh didn’t just throw the referees or Bernier under the bus.

Regardless of the validity of Bernier’s penalty, you can’t give up three goals on a major in an elimination game. Just inexcusable.

The old guard

At least two former NHL players believe that Bernier’s hit wasn’t that bad. Wes Walz watched multiple replays of the check and concluded that Bernier didn’t have time to slow down. Theo Fleury was even more adamant about Bernier’s raw deal, though.

“What a *****y ending to a great playoffs. A hit like that in the old days would’ve got you the Conn Smythe trophy.”

Fleury represented the faction of observers who felt that Scuderi put himself into a vulnerable position during that hit. Speaking of which, judge for yourself by watching video of the check below:

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So that’s a solid cross-section of the many opinions spewed over perhaps the most memorable moment of the series. Feel free to share the funniest, most poignant and/or strangest thoughts you’ve seen in the comments – even if they’re your own.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.