It was not the prettiest of wins, it was not the prettiest of games for the Rangers, but the shootout was a thing of beauty. After a very lack luster 2 periods, the third period was a completely different story, the Rangers were trailing 1-0 when Patrick Kaleta nailed Brad Richards in the lower back, sending him head first into the boards, igniting a fire in the Rangers that we haven’t seen much of this year. The Rangers would score 2 goals in 43 seconds to temporarily that a 2-1 lead, giving up the game tying shorthanded goal with 8:18 left in regulation. The Rangers had to kill off a 5 on 3 power play to start the overtime; and they did so successfully sending it to the shootout. In the shootout Rick Nash shot first and put a nifty move on Ryan Miller to net the 1st goal. Lundqvist would deny Jason Pominville on Buffalo’s 1st attempt which set up Ryan Callahan to put the Rangers up 2-0 in the shootout. Callahan put on a series of dekes leaving Ryan Miller sprawled out face down on the ice and leaving a wide open net for Callahan to put the Rangers up 2-0. Lundqvist would then stop Tyler Ennis to seal the win for the Rangers, who face the Flyers on Tuesday at MSG.
Kaleta has a call today with the so called disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan, but because it’s a phone call and not a face to face hearing the maximum games Kaleta could miss is only 5, which for a repeat offender who has been suspended for a head butt and 2 other times for boarding, is a joke. Shanahan is the same guy who suspended first time offender Carl Hagelin 3 games in the playoffs for his elbow to the head of Daniel Alfredsson and only fined Shea Webber for his wrestling style boarding penalty last season. Inconsistency has been the story since Shanahan has taken over the position as head of discipline. Shanahan and the NHL has been preaching for the past few seasons the importance of player safety and trying to minimize head injuries to players yet he has been so inconsistent it shows that there is very little concern, depending upon the player that is injured and the player or team that has committed the offense.
The concussion issue has been a hot button issue in the NHL and the NFL over the past few years due to the increasing amount of players that have not been able to return from the injury like Michael Sauer of the Rangers, but also the link to suicide. From May –September of 2011, 3 NHL players took their own lives, Wade Belak, 35, Derek Boogard, 28, and Rick Rypien, 27, all who suffered multiple concussions during their NHL careers. Junior Seau’s and Ryan Freel’s suicides have also been thought to have been caused by multiple concussions and trauma to the brain. You would think with these continuing and lingering issues in these extremely physical sports that a harder line would be taken when a player clearly goes out of his way to harm another player. I know this is a “judgment call” but fair or not a line needs to be drawn in the sand, if it’s crossed then the discipline is what it is straight across the board. It is time to start putting the well being of these athletes first, as much as we all love a big hit, there is a legal, clean hit and then there are just flat out dirty hits, like the one Kaleta put on Richards last night. Something needs to be done before a serious injury or fatality occurs and them it’s too late.
Follow Joe on Twitter @BlueShirts10