There's been a lot of howling in the wake of Tuesday's Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, and it hasn't been from the Coyotes.
Kings forward Dustin Penner said after the game that two questionable hits from Phoenix' Martin Hanzal and Shane Doan were "reckless," and he's spot-on in that assessment.
Hanzal's hit, the far more egregious of the two, occurred at 11:01 of the third period. He shoved Dustin Brown into the end boards while the Kings forward was chasing a loose puck in the corner, leading to a five-minute major for boarding and a game-misconduct for Hanzal. Brown didn't miss any action, but it clearly left him temporarily shaken up.
Doan's hit, which left Trevor Lewis battered and bloodied, occurred late in the second period. And while Lewis definitely put himself into a vulnerable position by turning his back to a fast-approaching Doan, the hit was still worthy of a penalty — even if the five-minute major and game-misconduct the Coyotes captain was assessed may have been a bit harsh for the transgression.
"Cheap. Indicative of the score," Penner said after the game, according to The Los Angeles Times. "They were frustrated and they're both reckless hits."
Penner definitely has a point. Doan's hit was a bit more mild in nature, and it happened when the score was just 2-0, so his hands aren't quite as dirty at Hanzal's. Still, he did little to avoid contact, which occurred after a penalty had already been called on the play.
Hanzal's hit, meanwhile, happened more than halfway through the third period of a 3-0 game, and he clearly had enough time to recognize the situation and react appropriately. Rather than letting up, however, he extended his arms and shoved Brown into the boards face-first.
Hanzal's hit is exactly a type of blow that Brendan Shanahan has been trying to curb this season, along with direct contact to the head. It's always hard to judge intent in such incidents, because, frankly, we can't get into these players' inner psyches, especially when so much is on the line in an emotional contest. But taken as it is, Hanzal's hit looks avoidable, which is usually the biggest determinant in such a disciplinary decision-making process.
So, yes, there's plenty to howl about after watching Phoenix take two runs at valuable Los Angeles contributors. And if Hanzal, in particular, isn't given any supplemental discipline, the Kings are getting royally screwed.
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