Let me state again, just for the sake of those who might not have been reading this blog for very long, that I love defense. I adore defense. My favorite player is not a defenseman by accident. Hockey is a beautiful game consisting of a thousand amazing skills and plays, but my absolute favorite thing in hockey is a game-changing/game-saving penalty kill. So sitting here now, thinking about the Edmonton game, the only thing I can remember is the Sabres killing off Clarke MacArthur's five minute penalty. You guys, I was swooooooning, it was so beautiful. With every clear I got more and more excited. One of the things I love about penalty killing is it's the only time during a game when the crowd really notices and cheers defense. Defense is usually best unnoticed so it's nice for it - and the players who specialize in it - to occasionally get to be at the forefront. Seriously, if I could find video of that penalty kill, I would watch it over and over and over.
Which brings us to the penalty. On replay, I really thought MacArthur fell into Liam Reddox more than anything. From the side angle, it looked like both guys were losing their balance and they ended up in a very ugly collision. I understand why Lindy Ruff would call it a tough call. It was a tough call. That said, I would much rather the refs make that call than not make that call. If there's ever any question about a hit from behind or a hit to the head, I'm all for erring on the side of protecting the players' well-being. The contact may have been incidental, MacArthur was clearly feeling badly, he has zero reputation for being a dirty player, and Reddox, thankfully, did eventually walk off the ice with some assistance, but I think it's when all those things are taken into account that we end up with messy and inconsistent rulings, particularly on suspensions. If you think it's a bad hit, it's a bad hit whether the victim skates away or is hauled away, whether the hitter feels guilt or crows about it to his buddies after the game, whether it's the first offense or the fifteenth offense. Reputation and history of suspensions ae particularly frustrating standards when some players never get suspended no matter what they do. (This is where I encourage you to check out Down Goes Brown's hilarious NHL suspension flow chart if you haven't already. Hilarious. And hey, while you're there, check out his post on why fans buying tickets isn't really related to a team building a winner.)
But seriously, what about that penalty kill? Hot damn, that was sexy.