Steve Downie’s Cheap Shot on Johnny Boychuk Should Earn Lightning Winger a Suspension for Game 6

Steve Downie's Cheap Shot on Johnny Boychuk Should Earn Lightning Winger a Suspension for Game 6 With 10:42 remaining in the third period and the Bruins holding on tight to a 2-1 lead, Steve Downie corralled a loose puck and shot it toward an open net for what looked to be a surefire goal. You know what happened after that.

Yet, while that play just may go down in NHL history as one of the most spectacular saves a goalie's ever made, it was what Downie did a couple of minutes later that should force the league to watch a few replays on Tuesday.

The play came 10:54 into the third period, when an obviously frustrated Downie charged at Johnny Boychuk behind the Bruins' net. Boychuk had his back to Downie and never saw him coming before Downie drove his elbow directly into the 5 on Boychuk's back. Downie, who is about three inches shorter and 35 pounds lighter than Boychuk, got in a late hit on the B's defenseman, and Boychuk's head collided violently against the boards on his way to the ice.

Boychuk was shaken up and went straight down the tunnel, but he did return later in the game. Still, after seeing a dazed Boychuk struggle to get off the ice, an evaluation on Tuesday or Wednesday could show more damage than originally believed.

But regardless of the effect on Boychuk, one thing is very clear: Steve Downie deserves a suspension.

This isn't a Lady Byng candidate. It is a guy who's built a reputation as a dirty player, thanks to hits like this one, or this one on Sidney Crosby, or even his gutless assault on an unsuspecting player in the OHL in 2007. He has 38 penalty minutes in 15 playoff games. The guy's got a bad rep, and it's certainly well-earned.

In Game 4, the referees seemed to be influenced by that reputation when they called Downie for diving after Nathan Horton hit him into the boards. Replays showed Downie actually hitting his head pretty hard against the dasher, but he received no benefit of the doubt.

Maybe, at least a little bit, that played a role on Monday night, when his hit on Boychuk only got him two minutes in the box for boarding. Considering that just a few short weeks ago, Milan Lucic was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct for a play with seemingly less ill intent than Downie's, the referee could have easily given Downie the same penalty.

Instead, Downie got a slap on the wrist. He's already been disciplined by the league earlier this postseason, when he left his feet to hit Ben Lovejoy. On that hit, Downie had every right to hit Lovejoy, who had his head down, but the violence with which he delivered the hit crossed the line. He launched himself into Lovejoy, who like Boychuck is about 3 inches and 25 pounds heavier than Downie, to try to take advantage of a vulnerable player.

Monday night's hit, though, was worse. Not only was the hit late, and not only was it violent, but Boychuk never saw it coming. The Versus announcing crew immediately called the penalty "selfish," and the league can drive that point home by suspending Downie for a must-win Game 6 on Wednesday night. Given that he's a repeat offender and clearly didn't learn his lesson from last month, a multiple-game suspension should absolutely not be out of the question.

It seems like a no-brainer, but when it comes to the NHL and supplementary discipline, you just never know. Steve Downie, though, is trying his best to make this decision as easy as possible.


Update, 1:38 p.m.: TSN's Bob McKenzie reported via Twitter that Downie's hit will not be reviewed for any supplementary discipline.

Should Steve Downie have been suspended? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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