The Department of Player Safety had a busy night Tuesday, and hits by Steve Ott and Brandon Pirri were likely the two plays that garnered the most attention.
The rivalry between the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning has grown tremendously over the past few seasons, and the heat of the battle may result in Detroit’s Steve Ott sitting out a few games.
During the opening minute of the contest, the Lightning’s Cedric Paquette delivered a hit from behind on Alexey Marchenko, and while no penalty was called on the play, it appeared Ott took a name and number after seeing his teammate take a reckless hit from the pesky Tampa Bay winger. And in the second period, Ott caught up to Paquette and delivered a hard, questionable hit behind the Lightning net.
As Paquette circled behind the net with Drew Miller giving chase, Ott came from the opposite direction and, with Paquette concerned with the forecheck, caught him unsuspectingly with a heavy hit that resulted in a scrap between Ott and Brian Boyle. Ott was not penalized for the hit:
The game-speed angles of the hit make it hard to tell, but on the slowed-down, far-camera view of the hit, it sure looks as though Ott leaves his feet before contact is made with Paquette. The question then becomes where Ott makes contact with Paquette, and whether or not the head is the principle point of contact. The evidence of that, however, may be on Paquette’s face.
After the hit, and once Paquette skated to the bench, it was evident that the force of the hit caused a cut underneath his right eye. It wasn’t a massive cut, by any means, but it does make it quite clear that at least some contact with the head was made. Again, though, it’s hard to tell whether or not the head is the first place Ott makes contact or if the head contact is the result of the follow-through on the hit.
Paquette did later return to the game, but the lack of a lasting injury will only factor in if the league does decide to suspend Ott for the hit.
If that comes to pass and Ott is given a ban, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s been handed extra punishment from the league. Ott was fined little more than two weeks ago for spearing Zdeno Chara, and Ott was suspended three times for a total of six games over the course of a 20-month period between March 2008 and November 2009.
Ott might not be the only player who could find himself in hot water, though, as New York Rangers center Brandon Pirri also delivered a questionable high hit to Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat late in the first period of Tuesday’s game. Pirri’s hit on Horvat appears more cut and dry than Ott’s, though.
As the Rangers attempted to leave exit their zone, the puck was hacked off the boards where Horvat attempted to make a play to maintain possession for the Canucks. As he did so, he was clipped by Pirri, and contact looked to be solely to the head of Horvat:
Horvat remained down for a brief moment before getting to his feet and continuing to play, and he remained in the game, taking another 14 shifts before the game was through and even skating a two-second shift to end the first period, which came mere minutes after the contact from Pirri.
No penalty was called on the play and the next stoppage came when Rangers winger J.T. Miller opened the scoring.
Pirri has no history with the Department of Player Safety, and hasn’t been either fined or suspended over the course of his nearly 200-game NHL career.
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