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Was Gagne justified in snapping on Volchenkov?

Mar 24, 2010, 1:45 PM EDT

If you asked me to describe last night’s Ottawa-Philadelphia’s game, I would probably choose the word “brutal.” Simply put, the Senators survived the game by sheer toughness and a brilliant shutout by Brian Elliott.

It’s always an odd sight when a delicate star like Simon Gagne loses his cool. Sometimes it can be especially embarrassing, such as the case of Alex Semin last season. Gagne took a rough hit from Anton Volchenkov in the game and quickly went after the shot-blocking defenseman. (Here’s a link to the video) The play ended up in a Senators goal, but the Flyers are upset about the hit itself. Dirk Hoag from On the Forecheck provided some commentary on the situation earlier today and also gave a great frame-by-frame analysis of the hit. Here’s some of what Dirk wrote.

There is simply no way that Volchenkov had time to pull up once Gagne turned to face the boards. The game of hockey, particularly at the NHL level, is simply too fast-paced to expect that in milliseconds, a guy like Volchenkov should be able to ease up and avoid potential injury to Gagne. At the time he was coming in, he expected to nail Gagne from the side, which is completely legal. Notice in the background of those shots that a referee and linesman were looking directly at the play.

…To those who would say that any hit to the back should automatically be penalized no matter the circumstance, that opens the door to players with the puck deliberately turning to the boards in order to draw a penalty. It’s unworkable in practice.

Hockey is a dangerous, fast-paced game, and beyond skating, puck handling and shooting skills, we should marvel at players’ ability to generally avoid nasty collisions like this on a shift-by-shift basis. There are times, however, when the inevitable occurs, and someone takes a nasty tumble into the boards. Let’s just be thankful that in this case, Simon Gagne was able to get up in time to watch the puck go into his own net.

Great stuff by Dirk. Volchenkov was definitely a busy man last night. I’ll leave you with his other big hit of the night on Daniel Carcillo.

  1. Snevik - Mar 24, 2010 at 6:13 PM

    Except Volchenkov’s angle is already behind Gagne before the turn. And the turn only happens because Gagne had to play the puck along the wall, which isn’t exactly an unpredictable event. It’s not like: a) he turned for no reason just because a hit was coming, and b) I’m not entirely sure Gagne would have seen the hit coming, because Volchenkov is coming behind his shoulder the entire time.
    The hit on Carcillo was good quality, though.

  2. Chris - Mar 25, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    Yea, Good quality hit if he used his body. That was a blatant elbow to the head.

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