The End Result.

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?

Comments (23)

  1. I thought it was a 2 minute minor considering scuderi left himself in a vulnerable position. That no call on Stoll was ridiculous. I hate to say it but Gary Bettman & the linesmen took control of the game.

    • …and can anyone figure out the last time the Devils gave up 3 goals during a 5 minute PK?

    • Left himself in a vulnerable position? As opposed to what, not playing the puck at all? It’s only vulnerable if he’s being railroaded into the boards by someone not attempting to play the puck at all, and is leading with their shoulder into someones upper back. You know who took control of the game? The Kings power play when it scored 3 times.

      • If you are playing the puck along the board you know you are going to get hit. Turning your back when you know you are going to be hit is putting yourself in a vulnerable position. Had he stayed sideways, rather than turning at the last minute, the hit would have been fine.

    • Denis Lemieux: Against the rules. You know, you’re stupid when you do that. Just some English pig with no brains, you know.

  2. I should have let up, given the speed the puck was going and the logical play for scuderi to make was to stop his momentum and reverse the puck… I’m sorry… it was a split decision play and I made my choice to play the body with authority

  3. When I set up a rule in the classroom, and then enforce it sporadically, kids learn to break it, and have a legitimate complaint about it’s enforcement. Now, I also explain that I cant see everything. That knowledge doesnt really change anything if they see others break the rule with impunity, it lowers the bar. This is human nature, issues of intent and enforcement aside.

    • Oops. Typo. Should have read: ‘anything. If’
      My point is that it’s hard to be a law-abiding citizen when others prosper from breaking the rules. In fact, some people laugh at you for being a loser when you do follow the rules.

      • Stoll should’ve gotten 4, so Bernier doesn’t happen. If they blow calls like Stoll’s, it’s made worse by giving 5 and a game for a 2 minute penalty.

  4. I thought the no-call on the Stoll play was borderline. It wasn’t a hard hit combined with no glass in that area so the energy is not driven into the head. I’ve seen it called both ways.

    Bernier hit was a clear penalty. Leaving Scuderi dazed and bleeding on the ice is a major. Maybe a tad harsh on the game misconduct. But with the head emphasis, not really surprising. But again, you leave a guy bleeding and stunned laying on the ice on a boarding call driving into his back and it is a major. And the major is where the damage came. The Devils needed to stand big on the pk, and they didn’t.

    I was cheering for the Devils. I hate the Kings and their C, the Diving Dustin Brown. I wanted to see the Devils pull a comeback for the ages. Bernier gets the goat head.

  5. Somehow it’s appropriate that the season ends with a dangerous hit from behind.

    I’m a bit suspicious about how Scuderi turns his back into the play at the last minute, but Bernier did go in hot and I don’t think the call is disputable.

    Sooooo, is Shanahan going to weigh in on this?

  6. The hit was careless and totally unnecessary. The puck had been passed and Bernier only wanted to punish Scuderi. It couldn’t possibly been to take him out of the play because it was behind the Kings’ net so he was already out of the play for at least the ten seconds it would have taken Scuderi to skate down the ice. This is the textbook hit that we’ve been trying to get out of the game. That Scuderi was escaped with a cut lip and broken nose…that it was the sixth game of the finals…that it was 0-0, all of that should have NO bearing on the call. Boarding is boarding regardless of when it occurs. The NHL rule book doesn’t say not to call it in the third period…or in the playoffs…or in the finals. Should there also be a suspension? I say yes again because is was a careless and unnecessary hit.

    • Brad, I would be amazed if you have ever played contact hockey before.

      Your comments about the timing of the hit (the fact that it was behind the net and that whether it would “take him out of the play”) show a huge misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of hitting in hockey.

      We both agree that the call is boarding – but the ref should be very sure about the call if he is going to hand out a major in game 6.

      As well, you haven’t commented at all about how Scuderi turned his back immediately before contact. If he had turned the other way (the direction he was skating) then the hit would have been a great play.

      • Watch the video more than once. Bernier had 4 good strides while seeing nothing but Scuderi’s No. 7. Scuderi didn’t turn at the last second, he was in the same position with his back to the blueline as he chased the puck. Bernier had the choice of following the puck that Scuderi backhanded away or finish the check. He made the wrong decision…don’t put it on Scuderi for making a basic hockey play. And everybody is reacting as if 3 goals came along automatically with the 5-min major. NJ was distracted by the call and allowed the goals…you gotta kill the penalty!! Don’t make Bernier the goat for DeBoers losing his cool and his remaining players doing the same.

  7. Should’ve been 2 minutes. Scuderi turned his back at the last second and put himself in a vulnerable position.

    • Yup. Bad call any game – especially bad call for game 6.

      Was Bernier supposed to jump out of the way into the boards to avoid the hit?

  8. I have a question that I can’t find the answer to: What was the PP percentage for teams on a 5-minute power play this season? People want to blame Bernier, and it was a dumb play, but how often do teams kill off the 5 minutes, and how often do they only allow one goal?

    It seems often that you see the first two minutes killed, the PP team get a penalty and the whole time seems to dissipate.

  9. If Bernier didn’t have his elbow up at the base of Scuderi’s neck, going full speed, with zero intention of playing the puck, then Scuderi isn’t hurt, Bernier isn’t ejected, and likely no penalty is called.

  10. I’m only commenting on a couple of aspects of the play associated with a few comments made above. I’m pretty much blogged out concerning millisecond by millisecond breakdowns of recent controversial hits (comparing Torres’ hit on Hossa vs Ovechkin’s hit on Girardi, Rome’s hit on Horton last year). Concerning the few comments above stating that Scuderi turned or exposed his back a the last second making himself vulnerable – if you rewatch the video you will see all his puck support was on his left. Two teammates were along the left side boards and nobody was on his right. Scuderi had no ‘hockey smart’ choice but to move the puck towards his support. He was skating straight for the puck at the endboard, he angled his body sideways to intercept the puck to make a backhand pass to his teammates, made a normal turn to make the pass resulting in his back becoming square to the oncoming Bernier. It was all natural positioning in that situation; he did not make the pass then quickly turn his back for the hit as others above seem to portray. Whether Bernier ‘decides’ to hit Scuderi (I’ve seen many hits like that) or pursue the puck instead (I’ve seen many players do that too in the same situation), I’m not commenting on here. The other point concerning comments above, if you watch the video again (and pay attention this time) Bernier did not have ” his elbow up at the base of Scuderi’s neck”. Bernier’s elbow was down in a normal position when making a hit. Bernier’s arm and shoulder made contact with Scuderi’s back in a normal hitting position. Just commenting on where Bernier’s elbow was, not whether it should or shouldn’t have been a penalty. I’m surprised someone hasn’t yet said Bernier ” left his feet ” when hitting Scuderi (which he didn’t). Sorry, just a little jaded from too many over-emotional unobservant bloggers, et al..

  11. Can someone show me in the rule book under boarding where it says something along the lines of “if a player leaves himself in a vulnerable position, he is fair game to be run through the boards”?

    Bernier had ample time to at the very least let up, and chose not to. As a result Scuderi had a pretty nasty cut and looked like he wasn’t too sure where he was on the way off the ice. A major was absolutely the right call and kudos to the referees for having the balls to make it.

    I love the way how so many people are commenting that because this was in game 6 of the Stanley cup finals that this should be a minor. Yet you go to any other thread on officiating and everyone is complaining about how they want consistency in officiating. Pretty tough to be consistent in officiating when the expectations themselves aren’t. All regular season this was a major and suspension, no questions asked.

    • Ahhh, just reflecting on the times watching “Moose” Dupont of the “Broadstreet Bullies” flying around the ice like Steve Bernier on crack making 3 or 4 hits like Bernier’s – in 1 shift!!…. And the Philly crowd going wild… Those were the days… Thank God those days are over. Kind of dated myself with those memories.

      Dean, thanks for your comments. I guess I’m not completely blogged out discussing controversial calls. I agree with what your saying. Rule 41 – Boarding – the initial critierion is whether the opponent is defenseless. Scuderi making a normal hockey play (backhand to a teammate) resulted in being in a vulnerable, defenseless position along the boards. Once unintentional defenselessness is determined, the next criterion is “… the degree of violence of the impact with the boards…” to determine what penalty will be assessed. A Major is assessed if the “degree of violence” is excessive – I would estimate Bernier was at about 3/4 of his full speed on impact which the ref determined was excessive enough for a major penalty. I don’t think the refs had any choice but to make that call of a major penalty due to the ‘violence’ level. As for the match penalty, Boarding rule 41.5 ” When a major penalty is imposed under this rule for a foul resulting in an injury to the face or head of an opponent, a game misconduct shall be imposed “. Scuderi sustained an injury to his face. Unfortunately for Bernier, by the wording of the rule, there’s no discretion available to the ref. Recap: defenseless, degree of violence, injury.

      Concerning the qualifier of rule 41 of “…the opponent put(ting) himself in a vulnerable position…”, I too could not find anything mentioning a qualifier of fair game, open season or free-for-all. This qualifier was established mostly to minimize the instances of those opponents getting hit from simulating a boarding penalty out of a legal hit. It is under the discretion of the official and is almost always involved in the 41.2 category ((potential) minor penalty) due to the lower level of ‘violence’ involved. What I’m getting a here is no player in their right mind seeing an opponent barreling down on them at full speed will intentionally make himself vulnerable. Even if some of you thought Scuderi ‘turned his back at the last second”, do you really think he thought “Gee, I’m going to risk a serious concussion or injury by turning my back to him so my team can get a major penalty power play, even though most major PP’s crap out anyway due to a lack of intensity…”. Mmmm, probably not. (the sarcasm isn’t intended to be offensive, by the way). Although I have seen, on rare occasions, a boarding penalty down-graded to a minor from a major (even though violence of impact is the determining criterion) because the one getting hit contributed to his vulnerability but it still was boarding. OR Kerry Fraser not penalizing the hitter but penalizing the ‘hitee’ with rule 64 – Diving/embellishment – even though he’s lying on the ice bleeding with an eventually determined partial concussion (sorry, had to get that out).

      Your point about the disparity in refereeing between regular season and playoffs (especially the final series if not Cup winning games) is well taken but I think will always exist. The NHL, referees, players and fans all want the players to determine the outcome. I believe in consistency myself but I want to remember playoffs for the action, continuous flow and excitement, not stop and start and massive amounts of penalties and bitterness over borderline calls. I don’t want to see a Stanley Cup-winning game Kerry Fraser’d (oh, crap, sorry, did it again) out of my team’s hands (or any team, for that matter). I’d rather have a hard-hitting, end-to-end, fast-paced game. Letting borderline (or some potential minor penalty) calls go (as long as it’s consistent) is acceptable to me… But not Bernier’s type of hit in any game.

      My last point above is why I think Stoll’s hit on Gionta wasn’t called. It could have been because of obscured views. It could have been because the officials saw Gionta’s skates bracing to stop (you’ll notice the snow spray from his skates) and his hands up to either grab the boards or brace himself (I personally think to grab the boards to get off the ice). I do not know if he saw Stoll (probably not). Stoll did hold up his progression and did not follow through right to the boards. I have seen similar plays called boarding but I have also seen them not called. Perhaps the officials determined Gionta wasn’t defenseless and vulnerable enough to consider boarding. After reviewing the hit over and over, it is in my opinion that because he got hit into the bench area it caused his skates to flip out making the hit more serious than it was and that if that was along the glassed boards, Gionta would not have fallen to his knees, just rebound off the glass boards anywhere else. Don’t know for sure, though. Although I would bet that if Bernier’s hit happened before Stoll’s, Stoll’s hit would have been called boarding or charging. I do know that if there is consistency within the playoffs only, presidence had already been set with hits (potential charging and boarding) near the players benches with L.A.’s own Dustin Brown’s hit on Henrik Sedin in the first round not being called charging. Not exactly the same but vulnerability was similar (the defenselessness criterion is not actually mentioned in the charging rule but has been considered in some charging penalties).

      This is the second time I typed out all this crap after I accidentally clicked the photo above instead of the video clip causing the page to change and lost all my entry. Doah! After that happened I felt like plowing some poor, defenseless bastard violently into the boards!

  12. Oh, one more point from my lost entry. Although irrelevant, all I believe Bernier was trying to do was throw a big hit to rally the team. How many times have we seen a big hit cause a tide change in a game. As Martin Brodeur stated after the game, Bernier’s style of play helped them to get to where they got. He was trying to contribute to the team with the hit. It was just unfortunate. There probably was no intention to harm. The refs didn’t think so either; otherwise, they’d slap him with a match penalty for boarding, not a game misconduct. Not a Bernier fan, per se, nor a Devil’s fan – nor a King’s fan: just expressing an unbiased view. Still wanna hit something, though.

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