Smith hit to Stepan was dirty


In the second period of yesterday’s game, Senators forward Zack Smith took a run at Rangers center Derek Stepan catching him in the chin with a blindside hit that made head contact. The controversial play led to Chris Kreider immediately pounding Smith and rag dolling him in retaliation.

When it comes to the Department of Player Safety, they look for a couple of things on such hits. What was called? In this instance, Smith was assessed a two-minute minor for interference and a five-minute major. When Rangers coach asked the refs how it wasn’t a major penalty, he got the usual response. Somehow, Kreider wound up with 17 penalty minutes including a instigator and misconduct. In this instance, he was justified in seeking justice.

Stepan went to the locker room probably to go through concussion tests. Fortunately, he was able to return and finish the game. That he wasn’t seriously injured is a miracle. Smith’s intent was clear. This wasn’t shoulder to shoulder or chest. It was dangerously high catching a prone Stepan on the chin with head contact. In our estimation, a dirty hit that should be automatically reviewed for supplementary discipline.

Will it? That remains to be seen. It would be nice for the league to take action. It doesn’t matter that Stepan wasn’t hurt. It’s the kind of cheap hit they’re trying to eliminate. Even if it means Smith sitting two games, it’s better than nothing.

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About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included two stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil games. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has scored Berkeley Carroll basketball games since 2006 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. From players, coaches to administrators, it's a first class program. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree.
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