Another hockey game, so that must mean more head shots.
Following his team's 2-0 home loss to the Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers coach John Tortorella took aim at Ottawa’s Chris Neil for a questionable hit in the third period on the Rangers' Brian Boyle.
The hit happened as Boyle swooped into the middle of the ice and unloaded the puck, Neil laid his shoulder into him a beat after it was gone.
Though Boyle played three shifts after the hit, he later left the game.
“He’s concussed, he’s out,” said Tortorella, who fumed that Neil "launched himself" into what was “a dangerous, dangerous cheap hit.”
Tortorella argued the blow was “exactly the same thing” as Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres’ hit on Chicago’s Marian Hossa which landed the latter in the hospital and the former with a 25-game suspension.
“They have a blue-print, not a lot of research to do there,” said Tortorella, who also added with sarcasm in his voice he was sure Neil, like Torres, is a repeat offender (actually, he has never been suspended).
But if Tortorella were to take a closer look at the hit, he might conclude the more appropriate precedent is Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty's hit on Pittsburgh defenceman Kristopher Letang earlier this season under similar circumstances. Pacioretty was suspended for three games.
Neil, for his part, took a different view of the incident.
“He’s cutting across the middle with his head down, obviously I’m putting back pressure and trying to bust back and get in good position and I’m a physical player out there, I think it’s a clean hit. Obviously he was slow getting up, but I think it probably just knocked the wind out of him, I caught him right in the chest. He’s a big man, it takes a lot out of me giving those hits too,” he said.
The six-foot-seven Boyle has had a running battle with several Senators since he gave diminutive Ottawa defenceman Erik Karlsson a series of jabs during a scrum in game one. In the opening moments of the next game, Ottawa defenceman Matt Carkner rained blows down on Boyle, who wasn't interested in fighting - Carkner was tossed from that contest and given a one-game suspension.
Neil's hit wasn't the only incident from this game that could spark controversy.
Ottawa's Colin Greening infuriated the Rangers earlier in the game when he drilled Marian Gaborik after the puck had left his stick; Ottawa's Zack Smith was similarly displeased at New York's Michael Del Zotto, who on a couple of occasions took long runs at him.
The Senators might also wonder if New York’s Mike Rupp should be due an audience with the league to talk about a charging penalty on Ottawa’s Jim O’Brien in the second period - Rupp made a beeline from centre ice toward O’Brien, laid his shoulder into him, and crunched him into the glass.
O’Brien was able to finish the game, Rupp was given a two-minute charging penalty.
Commissioner Gary Bettman was in the crowd, as he was the night Torres took out Hossa, when his presence a the game was pointed out to Tortorella, he snapped “wonderful.”