The World Cup pre-tournament games have featured rivalry tilts between Finland and Sweden and Russia and Czech Republic, but it took until the contest between heated rivals Canada and USA for the tournament to feature the first potentially suspendable hit.
In the second frame of the pre-tournament opener for both teams, defenseman Shea Weber was tracking back into the Canadian zone to chase a puck that had been dumped in by the American squad.
As Weber went back to pick up the loose puck, USA’s Ryan Kesler was closing the gap on the forecheck. Weber looked over his shoulder as he approached the puck and spotted Kesler, but as the Canadian blueliner went to make a play on the puck he was met by Kesler, who gave Weber a shove from behind and into the boards:
Luckily for Canada — and for the Montreal Canadiens faithful who had their hearts jump into their throats — Weber was able to get back to his feet with relative ease and remained in the game. And though the resulting skirmish ended with the Canadians going on the penalty kill as both Weber and Jonathan Toews were handed roughing minors, Kesler got the worst of the altercation with a major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct.
Even with the misconduct, though, it’s unlikely Kesler ends up seeing any supplemental discipline for the hit. That Weber was all right and able to continue means the hit will definitely work in Kesler’s favor, and it helps that Weber went into the boards about as safely as possible given the nature of the hit. The biggest concern for Kesler might be that Weber will be out patrolling the ice during Saturday's game, and there won't even be any escaping Weber now that he's in the Eastern Conference. Kesler's Ducks will square off against Weber's Canadiens in late-November, and it doesn't seem like this was a hit Weber will soon forget.
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