Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman dodged a bullet when it was announced he would not face a hearing for hit on Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson.
The Tampa Bay Lightning played a tremendous game last night at the Capital One Arena in DC. After dropping Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference Final to the Washington Capitals at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, the Lightning struck the Caps 4-2 in Game 3.
While almost everyone here in the Bolts Nation is celebrating and reveling in the return of the Lightning team they have come to know and love, Capitals fans are in search of blood. The animosity stems from a first-period hit by Anton Stralman against Capitals forward Tom Wilson.
At 8:58 in the first period, Wilson was attempting to play the puck in the Capitals zone. As a good defenseman usually is, Stralman was in hot pursuit. Then, it happened…the moment which sent Capitals fans all over the world into quite the frenzy.
Anton Stralman hit Tom Wilson from behind and drilled him into the boards. As one could easily imagine, Wilson hit the ground like a ton of bricks and was down on the ice for quite a while as he attempted to get the license plate of the truck that just rammed into him.
Regrettably, this is a clear case of Boarding against Anton Stralman. Here’s a look at what the official NHL Rulebook has to say on the subject.
"41.1 Boarding – A boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously. The severity of the penalty, based upon the impact with the boards, shall be at the discretion of the Referee."
While there is still some dispute as to whether or not Wilson was aware of Stralman approaching and turned into the boards with his head down (which really doesn’t matter when it comes to whether or not a penalty should be assessed in this particular situation) the referees did their job and sent Stralman to the box.
As one could easily imagine, there are a fair amount of Capitals fans who are not pleased with Stralman’s actions. In fact, some of these fans are looking for some much steeper punishment for the Swedish defenseman. Some feel a fine and/or a suspension are in order.
Unfortunately for them, they are not going to get their wish. According to Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post, Anton Stralman will not face a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety as a result of his hit to Tom Wilson.
This may be the unpopular opinion, and we can’t even believe we are about to say this, but the NHL Department of Player Safety made the right call here. (Wow, just saying that feels weird.) Anton Stralman has no history of such behavior and cannot be classified as a dirty player, there was no clear intent to injure in the hit, and there was no serious injury to Wilson as a result of the play.
Granted, Stralman could’ve made a better decision on the play and chosen to pump the breaks a little; however, he was penalized for this and the game progressed. Given how uneven the NHL Department of Player Safety has been when it comes to dealing out supplemental discipline, this could’ve ended a lot worse for Stralman.
The good news for Bolts fans is with no supplemental discipline in sight, Anton Stralman will be eligible (and will almost assuredly be in the lineup) for Game 4 against the Capitals on Thursday night. The Bolts did an excellent job of turning the tide and getting the momentum on their side. Here’s hoping the Lightning can capitalize on this and send the series back to Tampa on an even keel.