Fans in Boston are outraged right now and I have to be honest, I feel for them here.
On Saturday night the Bruins faced off against the Arizona Coyotes in what was a pretty important game for both teams, for the Bruins they looked to continue their climb up the standings while the Coyotes looked to put an end to a losing streak that had seen them fall out of playoff contention following some rather significant roster moves. The Bruins would eventually walk away with a victory, defeating the Coyotes by a score of 4 - 2, but following the game all of the talk was once again on the brutally inconsistent officiating from officials in the National Hockey League.
The controversy surrounded a pair of calls on Saturday, the first of which resulted in the ejection of Bruins rookie Jeremy Lauzon just seconds after he had stepped out of the penalty box. Almost immediately after exiting the penalty box Lauzon found himself with a great scoring chance but was entirely unable to capitalize on the opportunity, and that may have resulted in some frustration for the 22 year old. Just seconds after Lauzon had missed on his scoring chance veteran Coyotes forward Derek Stepan found himself on top of the loose puck and wasted no time in clearing it up the ice, but even his quick clearing attempt was not enough to get him out of danger. Whether it was due to the frustration of his missed scoring chance or simply a reckless play on the part of Lauzon, he proceeded to level Stepan with a very reckless hit to the head.
You can see the replay of that hit right here:
Lauzon was ejected on the play and now the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety has announced that the Bruins rookie is facing a suspension for his blow to the head of Stepan.
Now to be clear I don't think anyone in Boston was defending the Lauzon hit and I think most fans would be willing to accept a suspension for what was a blatant hit to the head. The problem for Bruins fans was the fact that they feel the rules have been inconsistently applied when it comes to their players, specifically as it pertains to a hit from Arizona's Lawson Crouse on Boston's Charlie McAvoy in the very same game. Like with the Lauzon hit on Stepan there is no question here that Crouse delivered his hit to the head of McAvoy, and what makes it worse is that Crouse appears to use his elbow or forearm to drive the hit into McAvoy's head.
Here is the replay of that hit:
In spite of the fact that Lauzon was ejected for a similar hit earlier in the game Crouse was awarded only a minor penalty for his blow to one of Boston's premier players. Additionally there has as of the time of this writing been no indication that the NHL's Department of Player Safety intends to review this hit, only serving to add to the frustration that fans feel towards what does appear to be inconsistent officiating at the very least.