If Adam Lowry doesn’t get a call from the Department of Player Safety, he should consider himself lucky.
Late in the second period of Wednesday night’s game, the Winnipeg Jets rookie was in deep on the forecheck when the Buffalo Sabres' Patrick Kaleta picked up the puck behind the net and shovelled it over to a waiting defenseman. With Kaleta’s back to the play – and face to the boards – Lowry finished a check that left the Kaleta bloodied:
The result of the play would be a five-minute major for Lowry and a game misconduct. On the ensuing power play the Sabres fell flat, allowing a shorthanded marker to the Jets when Michael Frolik scored on a wrap-around attempt after stripping Sabres defenseman Andre Benoit of the puck behind the Buffalo goal.
As for the hit, however, this is the kind of thing the league wants out of the game.
The case for suspending Lowry: The hit was dangerous and Lowry didn’t let up with Kaleta’s back clearly turned to him. There may be no better time to teach a player about what will happen when you take liberties with the opposition that while they’re in their rookie season. In addition, the hit left Kaleta bloodied, which is never good from an optics standpoint.
The case against suspending Lowry: Kaleta returned to play and was no worse for wear. There’s a brief moment after the hit where it appears Kaleta is staring at the referee, looking for a big call. Regardless, throughout his rookie season, Lowry has played a physical game without stepping over the line. This would be his first such transgression and he was dealt nearly half a game punishment by virtue of the game misconduct.
If nothing else, this should be a fine for Lowry. It wasn’t vicious or violent enough to warrant much more, especially with Kaleta returning no worse for wear, and Lowry hasn’t shown a pattern of grey area hits that have been on the brink of suspendable. A fine would probably stand as a fair warning for Lowry, but it wouldn’t be shocking if he were to get a bit more.