BUFFALO, NY - APRIL 17: Thomas Vanek #26 of the Buffalo Sabres is helped off the ice in the first period against the Boston Bruins in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HSBC Arena on April 17, 2010 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
There has been plenty of debate about the slash by Johnny Boychuck to the knee of Thomas Vanek. Sabres fans are calling for suspension while Bruins fans call it whining, the debate will continue and opinions will differ without anything being solved.
We all have opinions that can be debated but there are facts that remain undisputed. The following are all facts that should be used to form your opinion.
1. Johnny Boychuk swung his stick with two hands and connected with the knee of Thomas Vanek. (even if James Murphy thinks he held him up without a slash).
2. The slash had enough force to make Vanek's knee buckle.
3. Vanek fell to the ice and crashed heavily into the boards.
4. Vanek injured himself when he hit the boards and did not return to the game.
5. He is listed as doubtful for Game 3 and is uncertain for the rest of the series.
Only Boychuk knows his intent but all of us know he was reckless with the use of his stick. His recklessness caused Vanek to crash into the boards and Vanek is out of the lineup. The Sabres are now without their leading scorer and while I can't determine intent, I can tell you with certainty, this play was worth more than a two minute hooking penalty.
Watch the play and decide for yourself.
The most bizarre part of this whole scenario may be the hypocrisy of the Boston fans and media. Bruins fans were irate that Tyler Myers was not suspended for a questionable hit on Boychuk in game one and those same people see no fault in this play. Admittedly I watch the game through blue and gold colored glasses but this type of reporting just reeks of homer-ism.
The funniest argument against suspension is in regards to the injury. People are trying to rationalize the hit because the injury is to the left leg and not the right. I think we can all agree that Vanek would not have crashed into the boards without the hit and the boards caused the injury.
To strengthen Boychuk’s case, the leg that could very well keep Vanek out of Game 3 wasn’t even the leg that Boychuk’s stick hit.
In the regular season this type of hit would be looked at for supplemental discipline but in the playoffs it is looked at as a tough play. The NHL preaches about scoring chances and allowing offensive players the space to create but in the end they are afraid to make a decision that will decide a series. Ironically, they could do just that by allowing a dangerous stick foul to go unpunished.