Dustin Byfuglien (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)
Dustin Byfuglien of the Winnipeg Jets put Mark Stone in the hospital with a hard, clean check that will almost certainly go unpunished, as it should. Looking for a dirty play? Check out what Jason Chimera did.
Stone, the Ottawa Senators right winger who is in the midst of a second straight 60-point season, collided in the unscheduled freight train known as Winnipeg Jets defenseman Byfuglien in the second period of the Senators win in Manitoba. The good news was the victory by the Senators managed to keep the slim playoff hopes of the only Canadian team still in the playoff hunt alive. The bad news was Stone left the game with a chest contusion after being steamrolled by Byfuglien.
Yes, a chest contusion, which proves Byfuglien drilled his shoulder into Stone’s chest, just the way players are taught to hit opponents. Nothing about the hit was dirty or predatory, no contact was made with Stone’s head and it represented a perfect example of a massive player using his strength and skill to its most prominent advantage. In fact, if teams at any level want to teach their players how to apply a clean hit designed to separate the opponent from the puck, their coaches could do very well using the Byfuglien hit as a prime example.
Stone remained in Winnipeg for further observation Wednesday night and Senators coach Dave Cameron reiterated it was not a head injury. “He’s going to stay behind to get checked out," Cameron told reporters after the game. "It’s got nothing to do with his head. It’s upper body. Everybody was assuming it was a head injury. When it wasn’t, there was probably a lot of relief there.”
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the whole thing was that Zack Smith and Jean-Gabriel Pageau felt compelled to drop their gloves and go after Byfuglien, never a good idea in and of itself. But you could tell Smith’s heart really didn’t seem to be into fighting Byfuglien, in part because he probably knows Byfuglien would have torn him apart and in part because he knew he was going after an opponent after a perfectly legal body check. Smith ended up getting two minutes for roughing.
If you’re looking for something far more nefarious than the Byfuglien hit, you’ll want to check out the dirty/sneaky play by Jason Chimera of the Washington Capitals. Chimera, who has forged a reputation as an honest, hard-working player, took a huge cheap shot at Philadelphia Flyers defenseman and rookie-of-the-year candidate Shayne Gostisbehere with the butt end of his stick late in the second period of Wednesday night’s game.
Gostisbehere and Chimera had been battling earlier on the play, but it was nothing beyond the garden-variety stuff, that was until Chimera decided to use his stick to jab it into Gostisbehere’s stomach after the whistle and at a time when Gostisbehere wasn’t expecting it. Chances are, the NHL’s department of player safety will give Chimera a fine, but not a suspension.
Two incidents – one clean with serious results, the other dirty with no real long-term ramifications. Neither Byfuglien nor Chimera will miss any games, but there’s a good chance Chimera’s pocket book will be a little lighter in the coming days.