The Los Angeles Kings got the break they’ve needed for some time now in the first period when Steve Bernier was sent off after taking a five minute major and game misconduct for a hit from behind on Rob Scuderi.
The context of the play is shady given that Jarret Stoll got away with a similar hit on Stephen Gionta just moments before Bernier buried Scuderi. Obviously the Bernier hit warranted a penalty — the merits of the five minute major are up for discussion given that Scuderi appears to leave himself in a vulnerable position — but there is certainly the argument to be made that had the play been called properly it would not have been allowed to happen.
As I see it, the Stoll hit is an understandable miss from the perspective of a referee. It came as the puck went by the benches and there was commotion with players entering and exiting the play. I can see how it could be obscured given that there are players between the trailing official and lead official. It wasn’t readily apparent that Stoll is the reason Gionta was on the ice and they can’t make calls based on filling in the blanks. This is the reality of being an official.
The Bernier hit is an understandable penalty given the clear rail-roading of Scuderi by Bernier with no attempt to play the puck whatsoever. When he saw numbers he didn’t pull up and the blood on Scuderi’s face is enough evidence to convict. It’s not necessarily fair, but that’s how it goes sometimes. In a series which has largely lacked borderline play, you had to know that the first transgression would be hit hard. Above all else, it’s unfortunate that it happened in an elimination game and it will be magnified as a result. It doesn’t do much for closure.
What are your thoughts on the hit?