The NHL's Department of Player Safety has been busy taking small chunks out of NHL players' wallets this postseason for a series of incidents that didn't quite rise to the level of supplementary discipline. The most frequent cause of fine has come from "cup-checks” and most recently a high-profile incident involving a water bottle. In Game 6 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers, similar infractions that would fit those descriptions occurred at the end of the second period.
After jostling with Dominic Moore, Penguins captian Sidney Crosby rather aggressively jabbed his stick between the legs of Moore after the Rangers forward was holding his stick. Moore went after Crosby, but was met by a forearm shiver from Chris Kunitz and a rather large scrum ensued.
So we've got one player spearing another in the groin, as we've seen at least a half dozen times this postseason and a player using a water bottle with some ill intent like we saw in Game 5 between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens.
Unlike some of those previous incidents, however, there will be no fines issued to either Crosby or Lundqvist, according to John Shannon of Sportsnet.
Henrik Lundqvist nor Sidney Crosby will be fined for G6 incidents. You can assume "heat of the battle" and "after the whistle" as reasons.— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) May 12, 2014
What happened Sunday night in New York was similar but different to other incidents where fines were levied. In both cases where a spear to the groin got disciplinary action, first Milan Lucic on Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser, then Stars forward Ryan Garbutt on Ducks forward Corey Perry, those infractions occurred during a live play as opposed to after the whistle like Crosby on Moore. The same goes for Bruins forward Shawn Thornton, who was fined for squirting Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban in the face with a water bottle from the bench during a live play.
That subtle difference of this happening after a whistle I'm sure played a role as Shannon notes.
The league does seem to have an ongoing problem with players getting sticks to the groin this postseason. It even happened to Crosby when Brad Richards caught him below the belt in Game 4 with no penalty or fine and very little attention.
It seems to be happening more than usual which is why the league may want to revisit its fining policies and review these incidents more carefully. It's a dirty play in any setting, before or after a whistle, and shouldn't be tolerated. Maybe it doesn't deserve a suspension, but a fine would seem appropriate, particularly if the referees don't catch it.
The water squirting is a little less nefarious, but it's still on the cheap side and when it happens during play as it did in the Thornton-Subban scenario it has a chance to be dangerous. It's just one of those things you don't see much, but it's now happened twice in two days.
NHL players are always trying to get some kind of edge and get under their opponents skin. It seems like spearing and water bottle showers are working in that regard, but it certainly doesn't look good on the league when its athletes turn to rather childish practices to get ahead. "Because it's the Cup," I guess.