The first questionable hit of the night comes our way via Marc Staal, who took Jason Spezza out in the second period of Game 4 between the Rangers and Senators with this bit of contact to the head:
It’s definitely not your standard hit to the head. Neither Staal nor Spezza was anywhere close to full speed when the collision occurred, and Spezza was even leaning in a bit with his head exposed.
Nonetheless, it’s far from incidental or accidental contact on Staal’s part, as he basically decides that instead of making a natural hockey play to separate Spezza from the puck, he is instead going to use his hands/fists/forearms to deliver somewhat of a blow to the head.
This may not be anywhere near as bad as some of the head-shots and dirty hits we’ve seen so far over the last week, and you can make the argument that Spezza’s immediate reaction made the hit seem worse than it really was, but at the end of the day, if the NHL is serious about eliminating unnecessary contact with the head, this should have at least resulted in a two minute minor.
Instead, Staal got off scot-free. Though perhaps the fact that the Senators scored just minutes later, and eventually took the game in overtime to even the series, was some sort of karmatic justification from the Hockey Gods.
It should be noted, as well, that Spezza returned to the ice for the third period and overtime, and didn’t really look any worse for wear.