Some Thoughts On "The Hit"
It's hard to argue the hit on Ryan Miller last night by Milan Lucic wasn't at least borderline dirty. There's no place in the league for hits like that and a two minute charging penalty probably wasn't enough. The NHL has tried to rid the league of these hits so I'd personally be surprised if we don't see some additional disciplinary action against Lucic, especially with how aggressive they have been this year with fines and suspensions (just ask Kaleta).
I'm not one of those people who looks forward to the fights in hockey. I understand it can swing momentum but I'd rather see that done by a nice scoring play than a punch. However, if there was ever a time for a fight, it was last night. Lucic was surprised there was no retaliation and Gaustad was upset at himself for not taking things into his own hands. Everyone watching the game knew something had to happen, was supposed to happen, but it didn't.
After the hit I expected Kaleta or McCormick to be on the ice when Lucic came out of the box but they weren't. I assumed it was because they were shorthanded at the time and didn't want to take an extra penalty. It was a close game, I was okay with that. But a few minutes after that I was starting to question why there was no sort of retaliation other than Miller giving Lucic a few jabs as he was pestering him in front of the net. Maybe it was because Kaleta was just coming off a suspension and McCormick has a spool of thread in his eyebrow. Beyond them the there isn't really anyone capable of stepping up, especially to someone like Lucic.
Retaliation of some sort could have very well changed the course of that game. Maybe the Bruins scoring frenzy was the result of Miller's concussion but a solid stand against Lucic might have swayed momentum towards the Sabres in what was already a physical game. Either way, I have no doubt that hit was a game changer.
What's this lack of response say about this team? Does it show they're soft? Probably. Does it show other teams that they can push the Sabres around without fear of response? Maybe. Does it make them a bad team? No. The Sabres have never been that kind of team. Looking back to last year and the Pominville hit, there was plenty of talk about retribution but nothing ever happened. The Bruins are the type of team that will take those hits when they get them, they're built to be a physical team that will bully you around. The Sabres are not built for that and perhaps didn't want to attempt to play their bullying game and lose.
So I guess we ask what this changes from here. In my opinion it might bring the team closer. Maybe next time something will happen after all the attention this incident brought. The meeting they had today in place of a practice could have very well been one of those meetings that gets a team to bond and back on track. Maybe they talked about the next time Lucic is on the same ice as them or maybe they just talked about the league taking care of it. Either way, the night before Thanksgiving might be an interesting one in Buffalo.