There isn’t expected to be any supplemental discipline of Tampa Bay Lightning forward Barclay Goodrow after his blindside hit to the head of Anders Bjork in Wednesday afternoon’s round robin game, per league sources.
The Bruins lost a 3-2 decision and nearly lost the young, speedy Bjork when he was clipped in the jaw with a drive-by hit from Goodrow after releasing a puck toward the near the blue line.
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Goodrow was whistled for a two-minute charging penalty and the play was, at first blush, eerily reminiscent in some ways of the Matt Cooke head shot on Marc Savard in 2009 that effectively ended his NHL career.
There were some significant differences in the details between the two plays, however, and that factored into the decision. Bjork’s head position changed as he shot the puck and lowered immediately prior to the hit being delivered, and in the league’s estimation Goodrow had already committed to making the hit and wouldn’t be able to change course at the last minute.
Per the NHL rules concerning head contact, a factor in determining whether a hit to the head was illegal and punishable is “whether the opponent materially changed the position of his body or head immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit in a way that significantly contributed to the head contact.”
There was a similar hit from Craig Smith on Connor Garland in Tuesday’s Nashville/Arizona game that also went unpunished by the NHL Department of Player Safety, so there is some consistency there in this postseason.
Bjork was able to return to the game in the third period and didn’t appear to be any worse for the wear after presumably going to the NHL’s Quiet Room to get checked out by the Bruins doctors. Matt Grzelcyk responded to the hit while going after Goodrow and that started a large scrum of both teams in the corner during a particularly physical final 40 minutes of Wednesday afternoon’s playoff game.
All of this sets up a pretty nasty potential rematch between the Bruins and the Lightning down the line should the two Atlantic Division rivals meet up in the later rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.