staalneil

Rangers Talk Neil Hit

After last night’s game, Marc Staal was so infuriated with Chris Neil’s late hit he refused to speak with the press as he was too livid to talk.

Staal, who is fine physically, was assessed a double minor for roughing after he jumped Neil in response to the predatory hit that was somehow unpenalized.

The extra minor on Staal destroyed any possibility of the Rangers tying the game in the final minute.

Derrick Brassard receiving a 10-minute misconduct for jawing with the refs after the incident didn’t help either.

Here’s some Ranger reaction to the hit (via ESPN.com):

Mats Zuccarello…

“I think it’s a dirty hit, a blind-side hit that’s a little late, so that’s how players react. It’s unbelievable how they get a power-play out of that.”

Henrik Lundqvist…

“I think it’s a brutal call, first of all. Their guy comes in first and [Staal] comes in after, so it should definitely not be a four-minute for him, but I definitely think it’s a late hit. There were a couple of different calls [to make] on that hit. It’s a late hit, too many strides, but it is what it is.”

…i understand that Staal’s reaction cost the Rangers any chance of tying that game, but I don’t care. The Rangers are going to the playoffs and likely ending up the #2 or #3 in the Metro Division, so the missed opportunity to clinch won’t matter in the long run. What will matter is the confidence and comradery that comes with standing up for a teammate and themselves. After watching the Rangers back down numerous times recently it was a sight for sore eyes to finally see them fight back.

…sure, Zuccarello and Pouliot going after Neil hardly strikes the fear of God into anyone, so I doubt opponents taking runs at Rangers skill players will cease. But my hope is now that the Blueshirts have gotten a taste of what it’s like to have a teammate’s back, it’ll be a more common occurrence in the future. While you don’t want to take foolish penalties in the postseason, you also can’t allow yourself to be dominated physically, so it’s nice to finally know that the Rangers have the ability to push back.

…similar to Burrows not being suspended for his hit on McDonagh, not penalizing Neil just further proves the NHL has no regard for player safety. Meatheads such as Neil will continue to disrespect the game until the NHL and its owners take a real stand against dangerous hits such as these.

In a related note, Dylan McIlrath did this last night…

…i know a few of you were mentioning bringing up McIlrath to be used as a seventh defense after last night’ game. While his toughness is obviously needed, he’s not ready to compete at this level, so his negatives far outweigh the positives. Especially when the Rangers defense (when McDonagh is healthy) has played so well. Plus, the Rangers forward lines have been an absolute mess lately and this would further complicate things.

Kevin

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