The Rangers are in a dogfight in their first-round series with the Ottawa Senators, one New York now finds itself trailing 3-2 after a 2-0 loss in Game 5 on Saturday night. Unfortunately for them, that wasn't their only loss on Saturday night.
Brian Boyle, who has arguably been the Rangers' best player in the series, was concussed after an open-ice hit from the Senators' Chris Neil. He did return to the game after the hit despite not looking great following the hit, but Tortorella confirmed afterward that Boyle did suffer a concussion and is out.
Here is the hit.
Why Boyle would have returned to the game if the Rangers were able to announce that quickly after the game that he was concussed, I don't know. It seems to be an awfully risky and dangerous situation for Boyle, especially in a series that has been as physical as this one.
That wasn't all that Tortorella had to say about the hit, though. He also compared it to another hit that has drawn a considerable amount of attention in recent days.
Regarding Neil hit on Boyle, Torts says there's a "blueprint", meaning 25-game suspension to Raffi Torres. Torts says it was "the same play"— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) April 22, 2012
Torts added that Neil is likely a repeat offender too.
But that's a big can of worms. Torres's hit had three problems, which Brendan Shanahan laid out in his explanation video. One was that it was charging, Torres leapt to make the hit and hit Marian Hossa in the head. Secondly, Torres' hit was late. Third, Torres was a repeat offender, one with quite a rap sheet to his name. Let's address these one at a time.
First as to the charging, it's tough to tell from the video here, but it doesn't seem to me like Neil raises of the ice to make the hit. He hits Boyle in the head, yes, but Boyle is bent over leaning forward, exposing his head and putting it lower.
Secondly, the hit might have come after the puck was gone, but according to Elliotte Friedman of the CBC, it wasn't late by the NHL's standards.
We looked at Neil hit for lateness, was .25 seconds after puck. NHL standard is .5. League will have to determine if head shot— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) April 22, 2012
As far as the repeat offender status? Well contrary to what Tortorella claimed, Neil doesn't have a rap sheet like Torres. Neil has only been fined once in his career, way back in 2003. That's it. He's never been suspended despite what you might think at first glance.
I understand why Tortorella isn't happy with the hit. It is going to cost his team one of its more important players, especially in this series. I wouldn't be happy either. But it doesn't seem to compare to Torres' hit on Hossa really.
For his part, Neil didn't think he did anything wrong.
"The hit was clean ... When you're cutting thru the middle with your head down, you've got to expect to be hit." he said after the game. He continued. "Obviously, you don't like to see the suspensions. If it's a dirty one, then yeah. You have to be held accountable for it."
There was no penalty called on the play and I don't think we'll see any further punishment coming Neil's way for it either. But at this point I'm hardly ever surprised by the rulings.
The one big of good news for the Rangers is that while they might be losing Boyle they will be getting Carl Hagelin back for Game 6, his three-game suspension for hitting Daniel Alfredsson running its course with Game 5.
H/t to Kukla's Korner