One penalty rarely affects the outcome of a game as profoundly as Daniel Carcillo's five-minute major penalty for boarding Monday night. That five-minute power play gave the Edmonton Oilers two goals, and while neither was the game winner, it was certainly the turning point of the game.
In this case, the hit speaks for itself. It wasn't a hit to the head or a blatant attempt to injure the other player. What it was—especially for someone with Carcillo's record who was claiming that he has cleaned up his act—was stupid.
To intentionally check a player at those speeds that near to the end boards, especially in the way Carcillo did, defies logic. I'm a Blackhawks fan, and always will be. I have faith in my team and its players. But—in the immortal words of Lewis Black—"I have thoughts...and that tends to screw with the faith thing."
Sure, the hit was a "hit back", as both players were jockeying for position as they raced towards the puck, but as with the Chara-Pacioretty hit, players in today's NHL need to know where they are in the ice and think before they potentially endanger another player.
This thankfully didn't end in a head injury, only a potential knee injury—possibly to both players—and the injury occurred upon the player hitting the ice, not the boards. But there is still no excuse for it and I expect Brendan Shanahan's justice to be swift and merciless.
I never thought I would say this, but I like what Carcillo brings to the Blackhawks. I like how he has been playing overall this season, even though he has been streaky. However, he needs to cut this out or his suspensions are going to keep him out of the lineup.
For those of you who don't think that makes a huge difference for the Blackhawks, I have two words for you—John Scott.
Expect Carcillo to get one to three games for this infraction, but Shanahan will likely be letting him off easy in this case because of the relatively good outcome from an extremely stupid hit. Not to mention the price his team paid in the form of two goals and two potential points for the NHL-leading Blackhawks.
Carcillo owes an apology to the fans and to Tom Gilbert, but mostly, he owes an apology to his team and his goaltender in Corey Crawford, who took two bullets for him as he fights to regain his starting goalie status.
The real shame here is that this comes as the Blackhawks are really hitting their stride as a team. Sure, their special teams are still atrocious compared to where they should be, and their defense has glaring holes, but their offense is firing on all cylinders.
This team comes very close to the formula that won them the Cup in 2010, and they are well on their way to making a serious Cup run again this year—assuming that they can avoid these kinds of stupid plays and stay healthy.
No word yet on the status of either players' injury, keep an eye on my NHL News and Notes articles for more updates and other news from around the league.
You can also follow me on Twitter @robsquaredone.