St. Louis Blues captain David Backes has never shied away from physical play and he’s always walked a fine line, but the NHL’s Department of Player Safety may be taking a second and third look at a hit he laid on New York Islanders winger Brock Nelson Friday night.
With less than five minutes gone in the first frame, the Blues were breaking down ice when Backes dropped the puck off to defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. As soon as Backes left the puck for Bouwmeester, he stepped into the path of Nelson and dropped the 24-year-old with a stiff shoulder. Nelson was knocked to the ice and was clutching his head before being attended to by the Islanders' medical staff:
Nelson left the ice with some help and was taken back to the dressing room, but missed less than four minutes of game action. He played six more shifts in the first period and was back out for the second period.
As for the hit, this might be as close to a hit in the grey area as possible. It’s incredibly difficult to tell where exactly the principle point of contact was. If there is one thing that could make the play suspendable, though, it’s the way Backes lifts his shoulder right before making contact with Nelson. Whether or not that’s enough to get the Department of Player Safety to set up a hearing with Backes, however, is hard to tell.
Backes was handed a minor penalty for interference on the play. He has never been fined or suspended in his NHL career.