Last night in Newark, New Jersey Devils fans watched playoff hockey at the Prudential Center, something we haven’t seen in recent years. Going into last night’s contest down 2-0 in their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, we saw the Devils start fighting back and playing their game. The Lightning started getting frustrated as the Devils were able to slip under the Bolts skin, and that started to manifest in their play. The main events we want to focus on in this article are some of the cheap shots in last night’s contest like Cedric Paquette’s slew foot on Will Butcher, Victor Hedman’s spear on Nico Hischier, and Mikhail Sergachev’s “accidental” hit on Blake Coleman.
The Slew Foot
The play occurred in one of the corners in New Jersey’s defensive end. Butcher sealed off Cedric Paquette, beating him to the puck, after which Paquette tripped Butcher with his skate in frustration. To clarify, a slew foot is when a player kicks out the feet from underneath another player in an attempt to bring him down. While the gesture might seem innocent, this can very well wind up being a dangerous play. Fortunately, Paquette was penalized on the play and Butcher wasn’t hurt. Ultimately, the incident didn’t warrant any supplemental discipline but nonetheless, I’d still label the play a genuine cheapshot.
— x-John Smith (@NJviDs) April 17, 2018
Hedman Spears Hischier
Late in the third period, Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman lifted his stick up in between Hischier’s legs and struck him with the blade of his stick. You could easily label this as a blatant and extremely unnecessary display of unsportsmanlike conduct. Simply put, Hedman got away with one, and unfortunately won’t face any disciplinary action from the league. Considering how Hedman is neither a common nor repeat offender, the Department of Player Safety may (if anything) issue the 6’6″ defender a subtle warning. While a suspension probably wasn’t happening regardless, it would have been nice if the league at least hit Hedman with a fine or some other equivalent form of disciplinary action.
— The Hockey Epic (@thehockeyepic) April 17, 2018
Sergachev’s “Accidental” Elbow
This particular incident occurred in the neutral zone. Devils forward Blake Coleman pivoted 180 degrees to go for a line change, and was struck in the head by Sergachev’s elbow as the Lightning defenseman was skating towards his bench. The commentators on CNBC thought the headshot was accidental for a couple reasons, but that’s highly contestable. Sergachev made no effort to avoid contact with Coleman, and seemed to know the puck’s whereabouts, along with what direction the play was headed. Sergachev also looked like he didn’t try tucking in his arm, and maybe even leaned in just enough to get that particular physical reaction from Coleman. Overall, this was an extremely cheap and dangerous hit, especially since it occurred around the head. In regards to supplemental discipline, this should warrant at least a stern warning or fine from the league. Like I pointed out with Hedman, Sergachev isn’t a common or repeat offender, but to some degree, was consciously aware of his actions. See the below gif and watch #98 in white’s hips and left legs. You tell us if this was incidental contact or not.
Looks like incidental contact, but Sergachev's elbow catches Coleman pic.twitter.com/RvjUlshhnv
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) April 17, 2018
Supplemental Discipline on the Ice
It’s highly unlikely we’ll see any supplemental discipline coming from the league (something that’s basically been confirmed this morning), but things may certainly get a lot more chippy in this series. Granted this is the time of year where the referees try their best to let the teams play with minimal intervention, this is still playoff hockey, and the officials will at least let both teams settle on the ice before anything goes too far. Going into Wednesday night’s match-up, don’t be surprised if Monday night’s tensions spill over. Brian Boyle could very well continue haunting Sergachev for example, while the Devils use last night’s momentum to try and make Tampa Bay feel extremely uneasy. Things are only going to get more chippy and physical, which makes for great hockey and camaraderie. Stay tuned, Devils fans, you won’t want to miss Game 4.