At 19:42 of the 1st period in Montreal Canadiens eventual 5-2 victory over the NJ Devils in the Bell Centre on Thursday, Kyle Palmieri took the puck hard to the net and crashed into Carey Price. The Habs goalie got up punching at Palmieri with his blocker. Questions abound, should Price have been assessed a match penalty as prescribed in (Roughing) rule 51.3 if a goalkeeper uses his blocking glove to punch an opponent in the head or face?
Ask The Ref?
Scott McDonald @KokaneeRanger on Twitter asked: "no match penalty for Price after last night? Would like to hear your insight.
John Michael @Polikes who asked: "Please tell me the @NHL will look into #Price hitting defenseless player in the back of the head! He should be suspended."
The short answer to both Scott and John Michael is that Carey Price did not deserve a match penalty based on the manner and specific locations with which the Habs goalie used his blocker to punch the body of Kyle Palmieri of the Devils. Likewise NO review or suspension by Department of Player Safety should be forthcoming
Let me explain why.
Rule 51.3 --If in the judgment of the Referee, a goalkeeper uses his blocking glove to punch an opponent in the head or face in an attempt to or deliberately injure an opponent, a match penalty must be assessed.
So in the application of this rule the Referee must judge that:
The blocker/punch made direct and/or significant contact with the head or face of the opponent - and it was done so in an attempt to deliberately injure the opponent.
While judging "deliberation" in any perceived attempt to injure an opponent is always difficult. The force of the blow and specific location of contact about the face or head are crucial elements in the Referee's final determination.
Under rule 51, the illegal act can range from the assessment of a roughing minor or in severe cases it can rise to a match penalty based on the Referee's judgment of the situation.
The first blocker punch that Price threw in the vicinity of Palmieri's head never quite found the mark. It was a glancing blow off of the Devils player's shoulder pad as Palmieri tucked his head in a defensive position. This blow did not make the necessary connect to the head or face as described in 51.3 to incur a match penalty. Therefore the punch can most reasonably be regarded as "roughing".
The subsequent punches that Price threw were body shots and not head or face shots as Jeff Petry dragged Palmieri by the scruff of the neck away from his irate goalkeeper. On their merit, any of Price's blows, individual or combined, would not warrant a match penalty under rule 51.3.
What I would suggest however, is that Carey Price got more mileage out his successive blocker punches than just a 2 minute differential in penalties should have incurred. I have assessed a triple minor for roughing to more than one player (matter of fact several) during my 30 year NHL officiating career.
In my judgment this would have the perfect situation to apply that standard to Carey Price. Based on the double minor differential that should have resulted, Montreal would have the option to play one man short for four minutes or two men short for two minutes. (Captains choice.)
That's how I see it...
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