Bruins winger Taylor Hall's big hit on Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon during the first period of Wednesday night's game in Colorado was absolutely clean, and yet the Avs' response and postgame comments were a bit ridiculous.
Hall originally was given a five-minute major penalty for interference, but after a review, the referees clearly saw the hit was nowhere near as bad as it looked and he was given a two-minute minor. In fact, the reason for MacKinnon bleeding was his own stick hitting him in the face, not anything from Hall.
Here's a look at the hit in question:
Colorado's response to the hit was over the top.
Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog tried to get Hall to fight on a few occasions, and the B's forward rightly declined. There's no reason for one of Boston's top players to take himself off the ice for five minutes because of a clean and hard hit.
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Erik Johnson took it a step further in the second period -- after having a chance to look at the hit during the intermission -- and cross-checked Hall a bunch of times before the referees finally called a penalty. The Bruins made Johnson and the Avs pay by scoring twice on the power play (Boston already had the man advantage and got a 5-on-3 power play thanks to Johnson's penalty).
Despite having a 3-1 lead in the third period, the Bruins lost 4-3 in overtime.
The Avalanche's reaction to the hit after the game was a bit much.
Landeskog wasn't happy that Hall didn't answer for the hit, even after admitting the hit wasn't dirty.
"The hit in itself -- I looked at it in intermission -- I don't think it's that bad," Landeskog told reporters. "It's unfortunate the way it happens. Nate kinda crosses over into him, gets his stick up and I think it's his stick that cuts himself.
"But at the end of the day, when one of your best friends and teammates and ultimately your best player gets hit like that in the neutral zone, you've just got to make sure that next time anybody thinks about doing that, they have to pay a price and there's going to be some consequences with that. It doesn't have to be a dirty play for us to feel that way. It's just the way it is. Hall didn't want to answer for it, and that’s unfortunate.”
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Landeskog also said he was trying to "force" Hall to fight and that the B's star wasn't interested.
Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar, who scored the winning goal in overtime, said, "We wanted the guy to answer" when asked about the Hall/MacKinnon incident.
Colorado head coach Jared Bednar thought the hit was a "little high, little late."
There was nothing wrong with the hit -- the Avalanche overreacted because MacKinnon is their best player. Hall should not have been penalized at all, but once a five-minute major is called and gets reviewed, the least amount of punishment allowable is a two-minute minor. The penalty isn't able to be totally thrown out at that point.
The hit and all of these comments will make the Avalanche's game in Boston on Feb. 21 a little more interesting than it would have been otherwise.