Anton Blidh’s rookie season with the Boston Bruins has seen him find his way into 16 games, score his first career goal, register his first career assist and, following Thursday’s game, Blidh has a major penalty and potential run-in with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to add to his collections of firsts.
In the opening frame of the Bruins’ meeting with the Predators on Thursday, Blidh, who has played sparingly when he’s in the lineup, was attempting to make his presence felt with a bump on Nashville’s star defenseman Roman Josi. The 21-year-old winger didn’t do so well when it came to timing his hit, though.
Josi had played the puck out of the Predators’ corner late in the first period, but with the puck already on its way up ice, Blidh lowered his shoulder and delivered a hard, late hit on Josi that sent him crashing to the ice. The referee, only a few feet from the hit, immediately whistled Blidh for interference and slapped the Bruins’ rookie with a major for his hit on Josi. Take a look at the hit:
An interference major was no doubt warranted considering the lateness of the hit, but now the question becomes whether or not Blidh faces any punishment beyond sitting for five minutes against the Predators.
There’s not really much doubt that Blidh dips his body and loads up to deliver the check, and he even leaves his feet by the narrowest of margins. As for targeting the head, though, it doesn’t appear Blidh’s first point of contact is the head, nor does it appear he hits Josi in the head at all. The second angle provided by NESN is more difficult to see from, but the first, wider angle seems to show Blidh making contact through the arm, shoulder and chest of Josi as he brings his stick up to his chest after making the backhand pass.
And while it’s an absolutely unfortunate outcome that Josi wound up having to leave the contest, it’s worth remembering that an injury from a clean check doesn’t automatically make a hit worthy of a suspension. If it were deemed worthy of extra discipline, then the injury could come into play to determine the length of the suspension.
If the Predators are without Josi for long, it would be a massive blow to a blueline that’s already without P.K. Subban.
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