hockey media in NY and Montreal are both going into hyper-drive with respect to the latest illegal hit in the Eastern Conference Finals series between the Rangers and Canadiens. Last night usually tough, but clean Ranger defensemen John Moore hit an apparently defenseless Dale Weise earning the Blue Shirt a 5 minute match penalty and game misconduct for attempting to injure. Immediately Habs media, and NY media as well started to compare and contrast this incident to the one in game 3 when Brandon Prust leveled Derek Stepan, breaking the ladder's jaw, requiring surgery.
2) Prust was not whistled for any infraction during the game, but afterwards was suspended 2 games by the NHL for a 'late hit' and resulting injury. Anyone who saw that hit on replay after replay could see that although it was late (>than the allowed .5 seconds after puck release) it was NOT a head shot. Stepan chest took the brunt of the blow which is probably why both on-ice referees didn't call anything. In retrospect an interference penalty could have been called, but a 'match penalty' would have been a stretch. In last night's incident there wasn't as long a time lag from puck release to hit (<.5 seconds), making it in that aspect a legal check, BUT there is no doubt that the impact point was Weise's head, making the hit deserving of the match penalty Moore received.
3) Thusly, while both hits were illegal, they were for different reasons. In actuality the Prust hit was less 'over the line', than Moore's. Confounding things though is the fact that the NHL takes injury and past history into account. This would explain why Prust got 2 games. Prust has a history of illegal hits and Stepan got injured(not missing any games). On the flip side Moore has no history and it doesn't appear Weise was injured. We predict Moore will get 2 games like Prust and undoubtedly the NY media will go into convulsions linking the 2 incidents thinking the Prust play deserved more of a suspension. However, 2 games will be appropriate. If Prust had delivered last night's hit we would have given him 5+ games based upon his history. Conversly if Moore had done so in Game 3 we wouldn't have suspended him at all. Apples and Oranges indeed!!