Friday night’s game between the Canadiens and Capitals was a very fast-paced and entertaining affair. The Habs had one of their best performances of the year, but unfortunately there was one negative moment that I feel needs to be singled out.
Alex Ovechkin came off his feet to hammer Jonathan Drouin, and it was quite disgusting.
Ovechkin crushes Drouin, and #92 heads straight to the locker room afterwards. pic.twitter.com/kn6WmtLWLD— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 16, 2019
Claude Julien said after the game that he didn’t feel there was contact with the head. I’d argue that there is, but it wasn’t the primary point of contact, so you can’t really judge it as targeting the head.
What it is, however, is a blatant charge.
He very clearly comes off his feet to hit a defenseless player. He isn’t egregiously late, but the puck isn’t on Drouin’s stick by the time he makes contact either, so he’s gaining no advantage possession-wise. At any rate, it’s a textbook charge, and inexplicably went uncalled by the officials at the time.
The official in the half-piston spot inside the Capitals zone should be embarrassed that he didn’t make the call. He’s literally staring at it. I’m stunned that he could watch that happen and think it was okay. I’d love to hear him explain how it isn’t a penalty, because he shouldn’t be allowed to officiate another hockey game at any level if he even tries to defend that no-call.
Let’s hear from the man himself, who thought it necessary to defend the hit by reminding us all that hockey is not the same as dancing.
Gee, Alexander, thanks for reminding me I didn’t accidentally put Black Swan on my television. You’re definitely not a ballerina, but you broke the rules of hockey with that hit, plain and simple.
A good example of a hockey play would be the goal you scored in the third. When it comes to your hit on Drouin, you come off your feet to obliterate a defenseless player. Hits are supposed to be an effort to take possession of the puck from the recipient, which you obviously can’t do when you fly through the air for said hit and end up landing on top of the recipient.
It’s a hockey play only in the sense that it happened in a hockey game. That is you putting a hurt on another player, which I’d argue is tantamount to intent to injure.
And if it is a ‘hockey play’ as you say, Mr. Ovechkin, how deliciously ironic is it that your hit woke the Habs up and preceded a four-goal period for your opposition?
Plays like this don’t belong in hockey. As a Habs fan I almost wished they had a Ryan Reaves to send out there and do some reciprocal damage. Shea Weber probably could have taken that role and rearranged Ovechkin’s face, but luckily the team instead rallied together and decided to punish the Capitals on the scoreboard, where it really hurts.
If the Habs had a pure goon on their roster to go take revenge, they’d have a roster spot occupied by someone incapable of providing the speed with which they dismantled the best team in the league. In retrospect, I’m glad that they don’t, because they put on a hell of a performance in the wake of the hit.
But the NHL should take a second look at this, and since they probably won’t go the route of a suspension, at least levy a fine to say that you’re not okay with this behaviour. Send some sort of message that even if you’re a superstar, you can’t just go around taking runs at people.
Because doing nothing sends a message that teams should soldier up to punish those hits themselves, and you set the game of hockey back in time.