By Allan Muir
The way Brendan Shanahan saw it, Anton Volchenkov had a choice. With Brad Marchand squarely in his sights, he could have blasted the Boston winger with a legal check, or he could have done something stupid.
Volchenkov went with Plan B. And so the New Jersey defender will sit out four critical stretch games.
Shanahan's video explanation captured what everyone who watched the play saw. This was a cheap shot that could, and should, have been avoided.
"Rather than make a full body check, Volchenkov extends his elbow, making significant contact to the side of Marchand's head," Shanahan said. "Although Marchand...is stopping and turning his head away from Volchenkov to avoid the full force of the impending check, that doesn't contribute or explain the reckless elbow contact to the head on what could've been a legal collision. He sees Marchand clearly, and if anything, Marchand's actions just prior to contact forced Volchenkov to extend his elbow even further."
Yep, that's what we all saw, too.
So, four games and a fine of about $92,000. Seems pretty stiff. But was it the right call? Well, it's tied for the second-longest ban of the season, but it's a little shy of the five games I predicted on Wednesday night. Even if his 2011 suspension couldn't be used to classify Volchenkov as a repeat offender, it seems like the sheer stupidity of the hit, combined with the potential concussion suffered by Marchand, called for more of a statement from the Department of Player Safety.
But hey, four games is better than the two that some analysts anticipated, so let's call consider this one a win for the DOPS.