Somehow, someway, Brendan Lemieux managed to get himself suspended with hockey and all of sports on hold due to the Coronavirus epidemic. It was late in regulation when he foolishly checked an unsuspecting Joonas Donskoi in the side of the head for an interference minor.
He was lucky he only received two minutes for such a bad decision. The hit came from the blindside and knocked down Donskoi. He’s fortunate if he’s not injured from such a dumb hit. The same way Lemieux better have thanked the Rangers penalty killers for bailing him out.
Not only that. But they managed to get the game tied at two thanks to an elevated pass from Artemi Panarin to a charging Pavel Buchnevich for his 16th with 13 seconds left in the third period. Even though they fell in overtime on a JT Compher deflection of a Cale Makar shot on another ridiculous play by Lemieux, who did a flyby with Buchnevich to allow Makar the room to shoot, the Rangers got a point.
If the regular season does continue at some point, they’ll have 79 points and 12 games remaining to scramble for a playoff spot. Exactly two behind both the Hurricanes and Blue Jackets with the Islanders sandwiched in between at 80. Plus the Panthers right there as well.
For now with the COVID-19 pandemic creating panic everywhere and even overreaction from some people over toiletries and other essentials, there’s no point in picturing the season even continuing. There’s too much at stake with schools closing and eventually the mind-boggling Mayor and Governor of the state will come to the same conclusion. They better.
However, this didn’t stop NHL Player Safety from issuing a statement regarding the foolishness of Lemieux’s illegal hit on Donskoi.
He’s suspended. I can’t help but laugh. Not because it isn’t the right call (it is). But due the timing. Lemieux earned it. He’s not a smart player. He can be extremely effective when he wants to be by agitating opponents and sucking them into bad penalties. Something he’s done this season. However, he has a, penchant for taking undisciplined penalties that make you scratch your head.
For a player who’s not a bad skater or forechecker, Lemieux needs to make wiser decisions. He is good along the boards and capable of setting up plays. He also can go to the net and be a distraction for goalies. But his boneheaded penalties along with poor defense are areas he must improve on.
He can be a troll as he was after the Blueshirts swept the season series from the Hurricanes in Carolina.
For the season, the son of Claude Lemieux has six goals with new career highs in assists (12), points (18), penalty minutes (111) and games played (59). The former Sabres second round pick in 2014 turns 24 in two days.
At some point, he has to get it. Especially if he wants to stay a regular in this league. The Rangers are going to improve due to their talent pool. So, if Lemieux wants to stick, he must mature.
Just getting suspended hurts the roster. Of course, there’s no guarantee the Rangers will play the final 12 games. However, if they do we don’t know if Chris Kreider will return. He might be ready if the season continues by say April 12. Or they could just skip right to the playoffs and screw some of the teams still competing for spots.
I think they’ll shorten the schedule if they do play and that would only intensify the wildcard races in both conferences. We’ll see how it plays out.
For now, it’s wait and see mode for everyone.