Video Of Day: Jake McCabe hit on Patrick Laine


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Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe sports a cut below his right eye from a head on head collision stemming from a clean hit that concussed Winnipeg rookie Patrick Laine during Buffalo’s 4-3 home win on Saturday. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy NHL Expert Picks.

On Saturday, the Buffalo Sabres came back to defeat the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 at KeyBank Center in Western New York. It was a very good character win for a rebuilding team that’s struggled. Despite possessing talent, Buffalo ranks seventh out of eight teams in the Atlantic Division with 39 points in 39 games. Only Detroit is worse tied in points but with one more game played.

In a battle of two of the game’s teenage sensations, the biggest story was Buffalo defenseman Jake McCabe delivering a crushing shoulder to chest hit on Jets rookie superstar Patrick Laine at center ice. The American caught the Finnish talent flush with 14:09 remaining in the third period.

Unfortunately, Laine was helped off the ice and didn’t return. Not surprisingly, he suffered a concussion. It’s a real shame because the 2016 second overall pick is a breathtaking player who’s tied with first overall pick Auston Matthews for goals (21) among rookies. He leads all freshmen in scoring with 37 points (21-16-37) to Matthews’ 35 (21-14-35). Mitch Marner is third with 32 (10-22-32).

The 2016-17 rookie class features other talented players including Blue Jackets’ defenseman Zach Werenski, whose 25 points (6-19-25) lead their back end in what’s been a great year for the first place team. A third Maple Leaf William Nylander ranks fourth in rookie scoring with 26 points (8-18-26). Altogether, Toronto boasts five first-year forwards including Zach Hyman (5-13-18) and Connor Brown (9-9-18). They’re challenging for a playoff spot in the Atlantic.

Keep a close eye on Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk. The son of former NHL All-Star Keith has been hot of late with a nine-game point streak hiking his total to 25 (7-18-25). Like his Dad, he plays with a mean streak. His 74 penalty minutes are among the league leaders.

There are other notables such as the Flyers’ Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny, Detroit’s Anthony Mantha, Carolina’s Sebastian Aho, the Rangers’ Jimmy Vesey, Brady Skjei and rehabbing Russian Pavel Buchnevich. If Pens’ Stanley Cup hero Matt Murray returned, he would be an interesting case. He was 13-3-1 with a 2.18 goals-against-average, .928 save percentage with two shutouts in 19 appearances (17 starts). Most first-year goalies get the cold shoulder from professional writers. Especially given how strong this year’s class is.

As for McCabe, he had some interesting commentary on the hit. When asked about where the hit ranked he candidly said:

“It takes the cake,” as his biggest this season. Probably not the wisest choice of words. NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes was highly critical of McCabe. He felt it was disrespectful to characterize such a big hit which injured another player that way. He has a point. However, McCabe was asked a question and answered it honestly.
Naturally, the hit caused quite a reaction from Laine’s teammates. It sparked a line brawl. Given that Laine’s head was on a swivel, the hit was impossible to avoid. McCabe didn’t leave his feet just standing him up. The impact of Laine falling backwards to the ice with his head hitting it hard explains the concussion. Here’s the full video with the call from legendary Buffalo announcer Rick Jeanneret:

Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice had no problem with the hit:

Laine was able to walk out of the arena under his own power following the game. Hopefully, he will not miss too much time. But when it comes to concussion protocol, the Jets will handle it cautiously. The 18-year old has a bright future ahead.
The Sabres were able to complete a three-goal third period thanks to Brian Gionta’s wonderful game-winner. It’s a must listen for Jeanneret’s call of an exciting goal from the savvy vet who showed remarkable patience before beating Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck.

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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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