Who needs P.K. Subban and Milan Lucic? The Montreal Canadiens/Boston Bruins rivalry is among the best and oldest in sports. Even as both teams change up their personnel year to year, the bad blood runs deep. It also doesn't hurt when you toss guys like all-world agitator Andrew Shaw in the mix.
That was apparent Monday night at the Bell Centre when the Original Six squads resumed pleasantries. A couple of earth-shaking hits got doled out.
The one causing the most discussion: Bruins defenseman Torey Krug hammering Shaw in open ice. Here's a look at the play:
So was that an illegal check to the head? And will Torey Krug have a date with the Department of Player Safety?
The guess here is no, albeit it's close. There does appear to be some incidental head contact, but the head does not appear to be the principal point of contact. Krug drills Shaw in the chest. Note the way Shaw's body moves after absorbing the contact. If the head was targeted, it's more common for the victim to "helicopter." Also, Shaw put himself in a vulnerable position just before contact by reaching for the puck. As outlined in rule 48.1 of the NHL rulebook, the league considers "whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position by assuming a posture that made head contact on an otherwise full body check unavoidable."
Krug, then, will get off without supplemental discipline if you ask me. Shaw returned to the game after an absence to start the second period. Keep in mind that an injury only would've factored into a DOPS decision if the hit was deemed illegal. Same goes for repeat offense history. It and injuries only affect suspension length and not a decision to suspend. Not that Krug has a history anyway.
The other big blow that made waves Monday was Habs D-man Alexei Emelin bludgeoning Bruins sniper David Pastrnak into the boards. A bonecrushing hit, but nothing illegal to debate:
Matt Larkin is a writer and editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to thn.com. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin