It’s hard to imagine what Dallas Stars forward Brett Ritchie was thinking here.
Chasing after a puck in deep in the Arizona Coyotes zone with a little over two minutes left in the second period, Ritchie decided to not let up on Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski, whose numbers were the only thing former saw as he drove the latter dangerously into the end boards.
The video isn’t kind to Ritchie, and there appears to be little room for debate on how dumb and unsafe this hit was.
Goligoski was at the mercy of Ritchie, and the latter failed to show him any.
Ritchie, unsurprisingly, was given five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct for the hit.
It would be surprising if that’s all he got, too. This sort of thing is bound to pique the interest of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
The hit was dangerous;
It was unnecessary;
Goligoski was in a vulnerable state;
It left a player injured, one who did not return to the game (the Coyotes announced he has an upper-body injury)
The NHL is trying to get a couple of hits out of the game, and this is certainly one of them.
Given all of the late hits that have happened around the NHL over the past couple of weeks that did not result in a disciplinary hearing, it was easy to think Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman was going to avoid any supplemental discipline for his hit on Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy on Saturday night.
But this one may have been too late to ignore.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced on Sunday that Hyman will have a disciplinary hearing for interference.
Hyman was ejected from the game for the hit, while McAvoy, who just recently returned to the lineup, was injured as a result.
All were clearly late hits that were initiated long after their opponents had moved the puck.
While Reaves and Wilson were ejected for their hits, they did not rise to the level of supplemental discipline because they did not target the head or result in significant head contact. That is usually the line the NHL draws for late hits unless it is an egregiously late hit. This one did not appear to contact the head, but it was definitely late and sent McAvoy dangerously into the boards.
None of these hits are acceptable or examples of good clean hockey. They are not even examples of a player “finishing their check.” They are reckless hits on players that are not eligible to be hit, and in some cases are resulting in injuries. If those types of hits continue the NHL will have to start doing more than just ejecting and penalizing the players that distribute them.
November has been a ruthlessly brutal month for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but for one night, all felt mostly well.
Of course, the most important element was that the Penguins got a win. By edging the Dallas Stars 5-1 on Wednesday, the Penguins ended a four-game losing streak, and earned just their second win in 11 games (2-7-2).
It was about more than merely winning on Wednesday.
Sidney Crosby suiting back up was almost guaranteed to be a comfort for Pittsburgh, like Thanksgiving’s looming belly full of tryptophan. The extra gravy came in Crosby playing so well, though.
His first goal back in the lineup was quite impressive, while he finished the game with three points.
Crosby also did some great work to set the table for what was eventually a Patric Hornqvist goal:
Instead, those stars haven’t been able to hoist up an increasingly soggy low-end of talent, as the likes of Matt Cullen, Riley Sheahan, and others simply haven’t been good enough.
With that in mind, it’s a promising sign that Tanner Pearson is showing early signs of being another stroke of buy-low trade brilliance for Penguins GM Jim Rutherford. After failing to score a point in his first two games with the Penguins, Pearson scored a goal to give him points in consecutive games (two goals, one assist overall). That’s a hot streak relative to what had been a shockingly abysmal season with the Kings (zero goals, one assist in 17 games).
The Penguins coughed up a 4-1 lead to fall to the Buffalo Sabres in their last game, yet they at least eked out an overtime point there, so they’ve generated some standings points after free-falling for much of the past month. Considering their struggles so far, they’ll take it.
Still, Pittsburgh has a long way to go, and you could probably argue the same for the Dallas Stars. Dallas only mustered 19 shots on goal against a Penguins defense that leaves a lot to be desired, and only managed 17 SOG as they lost to the Rangers on Monday.
NBC’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Friday night’s matchup between the Minnesota Wild and the Dallas Stars at 8 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app and by clicking here.
As the Stars look to get back to winning ways they likely will be without Alexander Radulov Friday night. A lower-body injury could keep him out against the Wild, which would see Roope Hintz bumped up to the top line, according to head coach Jim Montgomery. Connor Carrick remains out after not showing enough during his time in the lineup, opening the door for Roman Polak to state his case.
Making a return for the Wild will be captain Mikko Koivu after he missed Tuesday’s game for the birth of his son Oskar. Marcus Foligno will also be back.
Meanwhile, it was last April in Dallas where Wild defenseman Ryan Suter suffered a broken ankle. As he once again eats major minutes (26:12 per game) on a nightly basis, he still has some hesitatation when it comes to plays near the boards.
“At different points going back for pucks I try not to put myself in that situation quite yet,” Suter said via the Star Tribune. “That play probably happens five or 10 times [per game]. It’s hard to get around it. You’re a little more hesitant. You think about it a little bit more. Hopefully soon that won’t be on my mind.”
Dustin Byfuglien can be a force of nature thanks to his truly unusual – if not unique – combination of size and skill. A sometimes nasty temper keeps him from being a “gentle giant,” at least on the ice.
The Winnipeg Jets defenseman sometimes goes over the line in moments of rage, and Saturday’s game against the Dallas Stars provides the latest example of Byfuglien going too far. You can watch his after-the-whistle, from behind hit on Connor Carrick in the video above this post’s headline and decide for yourself: should Byfuglien once again be suspended?
Either way, Byfuglien wasn’t ejected from this clash between two powerful Central Division teams. Instead, he only received a cross-checking penalty, and that came against Marc Methot, not Carrick.
As you’ll note, that nasty moment begat more nastiness, as Brett Ritchie fought Adam Lowry moments after Byfuglien’s hit.