Screencap and all GFYs sourced from Sportsnet West
Last night’s Leafs game was a fun one. The team was good, and William Nylander was even better in what was most definitely the best game of his young career so far. But there was a moment that almost distracted from the entire thing; a hit by Nazem Kadri that turned into some theatrics involving two Calgary Flames forwards. The full sequence can be found here, but let’s break it down into chunks.
Interestingly, the part of the play that started it all is perhaps the least important. Kadri hits Gaudreau along the boards shortly after the Flames forward strips Martin Marincin of the puck. The hit isn’t high, Kadri’s right foot doesn’t even leave the ice on the follow through, and impact is made with the shoulder, its a great hit.
Coincidentally, Mark Masters asked Gaudreau about avoiding being hit, and how he reacts when someone does get him. “Keep your head up,” Gaudreau said of his aversion tactics. Guys like Zdeno Chara in this league, you know, when you get hit by him you’re going to be out for a few weeks. Just keep your head up and making sure you’re quick and speedy down low to avoid those hits.” Gaudreau doesn’t keep skating and his head is tracking his clearance; obviously, it his plan didn’t work here.
He did mention remembering hits the next game, so maybe we’ll see some retribution down the line. By maybe, I meant “yes”, and by “down the line”, I actually meant three seconds later.
Gaudreau and 25-year-old sophomore Josh Jooris did not take kindly to Kadri’s hit. Jooris immediately skates up to respond, and Gaudreau sees Kadri looking in Jooris’ direction. Within milliseconds of each other, both Flames slash Kadri in the back of the legs; Jooris chopping first on the left, Gaudreau hitting seconds on the right side.
Interestingly, Gaudreau and Kadri were the ones who received penalties from this part of the sequence. Johnny Hockey received a minor for slashing while Kadri received one for embellishment. The latter call seemed particularly suspect. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t like the feeling I get when slashed in the back of the leg, where the only protection I have s a thick sock. Kadri stood up to the first slash pretty well, but when Gaudreau brought the pain to the second leg, he gives in.
“I was just trying to finish my hit there, and he came after me,” Kadri said after the game. “I took a pretty good whack there on the back of the leg and I don’t have much padding back there, so I don’t really know what else I was supposed to do.”
If I had to guess, the embellishment was for the stick flying in the air. Which, I mean, it did go a little high. But those things are light these days. I won a Dion Phaneuf pro stock once, and I when I tossed it in the air, it had a moment where it floated. I imagine someone could get some serious hang time with an “I’M IN PAIN” toss.
Two slashes was already an excessive response to a clean, legal hit along the boards, but Jooris wasn’t satisfied. Before Gaudreau’s slash had full sent Kadri to the ice, Jooris began putting Kadri in a head lock. After a body slam with little room to recover from, Kadri curled up and began to hope his teammates would break things up, which, give them credit, they did.
To this day, I don’t understand how any sort of reaction like this, no matter what the team, is only a two minute roughing. Really, they’re calling roughing based on the fact he threw a punch. But it was clearly a one-way instigation, Jooris clearly threw his gloves on, and it’s clearly an attack rather than a battle. You’d think a double minor would be in order here; even if it’s calling his initial slash.
— Stephanie (@myregularface) March 22, 2016
Gaudreau wasn’t a fan of Kadri curling up, making a “turtling” gesture as he headed to the box. I like Johnny Hockey a lot, but this doesn’t make much sense. Gaudreau is the one who had a freak out after a clean hit. Gaudreau is the one who slashed a player in the legs while he wasn’t looking because, well, someone else was about to slash him in the legs. Gaudreau is the one who has never fought in his professional hockey career, and he’s the one mocking a guy who was just double slashed and put into a headlock for not liking his odds if he tried to get back up with someone on top of him?
There’s nothing wrong with this in the rulebook, but it’s still a pretty unnecessary move.
In the end, the Leafs ended up with only a single man advantage from the whole ordeal, as Kadri, Joonas, and Gaudreau all had minor penalties. To make a less-than-preferred situation into a bad one, Matt Stajan ended up scoring a shorthanded goal before everybody returned to the ice. But, of course, Kadri and the Leafs shook it off, and a certain other offensively-driven forward did his magic to secure his team a win in the late second and early third periods.
Kadri insisted after that game that there was nothing he could do and that he was jumped. Gaudreau didn’t speak to the media after the game, nor, according to Kadri, did he do much talking after the sequence.