During last night’s tilt between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Washington Capitals, Brett Connolly was the subject of an unnecessary and nasty hit from the Caps’ defenseman Mike Green. Connolly was already taken out of the play and pinned against the boards by defenseman Dimitry Orlov and in came Green with a leading elbow to hit Connolly square in the head. Not only did he elbow Connolly’s noggin, his feet left the ice for the hit, in other words, a bad hit and in violation of Rule 48. There was no penalty called on the ice but to be honest, that’s the nature of the game, the refs can’t see everything.
So in comes video review with NHL VP for Player Safety Brendan Shanahan to the rescue. Right? Not so much. If he and the league were serious about enforcing rule 48 and eliminating these headshots, then he needs to step it up in the discipline department. Green, who has spent most of the season in a suit and not a Caps’ sweater due to a concussion, was only handed a three game suspension for the Connolly hit. Granted he does not quite fall into the realm of a repeat offender, but it was blatantly a hit that did not need to happen.
Now I will admit that Shanahan has done a bit of a better job than his predecessor, what with the videos and explanations, but I hope that the NHLPA in the upcoming CBA negotiations can force the issue of player safety to the forefront and force the hand of the league to really clamp down on these bad hits.
In his first NHL start, the Admirals’ #1 Netminder Dustin Tokarski (Tik), was solid. Tik stopped 29 of 32 shots he faced over three periods and in overtime, while being dehydrated for most of the third. The kid looked comfortable and as if he belonged between a set of NHL pipes. Though I am lauding his praises for his performance last night, I am not yet sold on the young goaltender. He was undoubtedly pumped up and nervous last night, therefore forcing himself to focus that much more, as he is generally known to daydream if his team has a lead. I didn’t see any signs of daydreaming at all, but I’d like to see him play more and I believe he will be getting the nod for Saturday’s tilt against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Tik may or may not be quite yet ready for full time NHL play, but he is definitely close if not there, which bodes well for Tampa Bay. I hope to see him stay with the Bolts for the remainder of the season (even though it is at the expense of the Admirals) just so he can gain more experience taking NHL shots and prepare himself for wearing the Tampa Bolt on his chest and not his shoulder.
As always Bolts Nation, #beRELENTLESS
– Jim Courteau