BOSTON (CBS) — The Maple Leafs earned a 4-2 victory in Game 2 on Saturday night in Boston, but might they be forced to play without their captain when the series resumes Monday night in Toronto?
Dion Phaneuf could be expecting a phone call from the league after he hit Daniel Paille in what could be considered a dangerous and illegal hit by NHL vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan.
The hit came 12:15 into the third period, with the Leafs leading 3-2. Paille received a pass at center ice in front of the penalty boxes and was looking over his left shoulder when Phaneuf skated toward Paille and threw a shoulder into the Bruins forward. The NESN camera from ice level showed Phaneuf elevate his left shoulder, which appeared to make direct contact with Paille’s face. No penalty was called on the play, but Paille was seen holding a bandage to a bloodied nose on the bench after the hit.
The NHL’s Rule 48 states, “A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted.” A fine or suspension can be “applied by the Commissioner at his discretion.”
Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference was serving his one-game suspension in Game 2 for his hit on Mikhail Grabovski in Game 1 of the series. In his explanation for the suspension, Shanahan said that Ference lunged toward Grabovski and made the head the principal point of contact. Shanahan noted that in that case, Grabovski did not move his head prior to the contact, which “puts the onus on Ference to avoid this forceful contact entirely, or at the very least, hit Grabovski square through the body.”
Phaneuf should find himself in hot water for making the head the principal point of contact when he was in position to make a legal body check.
Bruins coach Claude Julien elected not to comment on Phaneuf’s hit.
“We say this all the time, it’s stuff that the league takes care of,” Julien said. “Our opinion doesn’t really matter, so I’ll leave it at that and move on because I think, right now, the focus has got to be on our team and how we have to be better next game, versus worrying about that stuff.”
Earlier this season, Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul was suspended for a similar hit. In the video explaining the suspension, Lupul was cited for “elevating” and making the head the principal point of contact.