First off, this is nearly deja vu from last season in Edmonton. Check out
Yahoo! Sports Blog with the highlight of a Ryan Whitney knee-on-knee hit on Clutterbuck.
No penalty, no fine, no suspension for Whitney. He's not alone.
But here's the dilemma for Hall. Clutterbuck is coming through the neutral zone looking at his feet for a bouncing puck. If Hall chases the puck in this situation, he could be looking at giving up a 3-on-1. He had to take the body. This is a tough play for Hall; he has to get body on Clutterbuck or he's giving up a serious odd man rush late in a game already trailing 3-1. It becomes a desperation play for Hall.
At first glance during full speed it looks like an extremely dirty knee-to-knee hit from Hall. Wild's color analyst, Mike Greenlay, started going off about the hit. Then both the Oilers' and Wild's telecasts showed Clutterbuck lying on the ice in agony for a while before getting to the replay. Now get this, Greenlay and the Oilers broadcast both pulled back when they appeared to see it might have been Hall's hip that might have made contact with Clutterbuck's thigh.
The hip check is a dying art in the NHL. The speed has picked up and if you miss on a hip check, you're toast. It also comes off as a dirty hit because you're targeting a hit below the waist.
That's where this gets tricky, because all the talk about suspensions are hits to the head regarding concussions or hits in a dangerous spot on the ice regarding spinal injuries.
Clutterbuck digging for a puck in his skates in the open ice with his head down is risky business. Hall could've easily done more damage in a different manner as he attested to in his post-game press conference about staying away from his head.
Clutterbuck tends to jump out of the way from hits frequently, especially when he knows he has a target on his chest. He is very shifty laterally, which puts him in a position for these types of hits. As a checker, you have to be aware that if you miss, you can't stick out your legs for the fly by check. That's the big no-no. Does Hall kick his legs out?
Here's where Hall starts gearing up for the big hit. He sees Peckham stepping up as well, knowing they cannot let Clutterbuck, Brodziak and the puck get by for the odd man rush. Hall has put all his weight into his stride on his left leg and outside edge.
Now here's the point of contact and where everything goes bad for Hall. First off, the puck took a bounce to the complete opposite direction of where Clutterbuck is headed. So Clutterbuck is pealing off to his right and the puck is going to his left, and he's caught looking behind over his left shoulder.
Hall remained in his original stride on his outside edge, but here's the kicker (no pun intended): Hall's left knee was originally facing slightly northeast (above) in the first picture, but then his knee is facing directly northwest (below) in the second picture. That's where it gets bad for Hall.
The point of contact is below the waist. It appears Hall was setting up for a big shoulder hit to Clutterbuck's midsection. Unfortunately for Hall, his shoulders and hips were late to the party and once contact was made, and the rest was history.
As Hall goes to throw both his hip and shoulder into Clutterbuck, his knee makes the initial contact before the hip and clearly before his shoulders. If his knee doesn't open up, then it doesn't make contact, and it would've been a hip check.
Once the hip finally makes contact, it appears Clutterbuck doesn't even have a left leg.
The NHL has let a few hits slide lately, such as:
Brown knee on Michal Rozsival in the Conference Finals clincher
Recap: No penalty, lead to clinching OT goal, no fine, no suspension.
Porter hits David Booth
Recap: Major penalty, game misconduct, four-game suspension.
Hartnell's dirty knee on Magnus Paajarvi last year
Recap: 2-minute penalty, no fine, no suspension.
Whitney's knee-on-knee on Clutterbuck last year
Recap: No penalty, no fine, no suspension.
The key now is Hall got kicked out of the game, got the full 5-minute major and that tends to play a big role in Shanahan's assessments. Hence, Devin Setoguchi getting fined for his high sticking penalty, it was a four-minute double minor, Porter's penalty above, etc.
Check out this
tremendous blog written last April on the NHL letting knee on knee hits slide under the table.
I'll be honest, at first I thought it wasn't that big of a deal and that this happens all the time. Well that's what the NHL has been telling us. Do they really think or is it really just an accident?
Kevin Porter was suspended four games following his game misconduct, but Kevin Porter's name is not as widely known as Taylor Hall's name. The fact the referee gave Hall the full penalty and game misconduct is a start; he might have changed the game of hockey.
My prediction: Hall gets suspended 1-2 games, but clearly this is a play the NHL has let slide for far too long.