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Steigerwald: Wingels’ Gutless, Dirty Hit Deserved More Than a Fine or Suspension



Scott Wilson. By Michael Miller (Own work) | CC BY-SA 4.0

The NHL should never be taken seriously again when talking about players’ health and safety.

Did you see the elbow that Tommy Wingels gave to Scott Wilson of the Penguins with about 25 seconds left in the game Sunday?

There has never been a more blatant attempt to injure a player with a hit to the head.

Someone at the league office looked at the video and saw no reason for a hearing much less a suspension

So, the NHL can never be taken seriously again when it claims to be interested in preventing concussions. Here’s the problem: A suspension wouldn’t have been enough and if there had been a fine it would have been pocket change.

Wingels’ team may only have one game left in the post season and the Senators won’t miss him anyway.

A league that is serious about preventing head injuries would suspend Wingels for 15 or 20 games into next season–enough games to get his attention and cost him some serious money.

There was no penalty called at the time because there were less than 30 seconds left in a 7-0 game but there should have been. Not for the purpose of wasting the time sending Wingels to the penalty but to penalize his team in the next game.

Once again, a league seriously concerned about players’ heads would add a deterrent for situations like the one at the end of Game 5. Would Wingels have taken that gutless cheap shot if he knew he would be getting a five minute major that would carry over to Game 6?

Not a chance.

The league should send a message to players who think it’s their duty to send a message to a team during garbage time of a playoff blowout. Designate a point at the end of a playoff game when any penalty committed is carried over to the start of the next game.

The Senators should have a five minute major to kill at the start of Game 6.

There’s something about Murray; Sully on the Brink of Greatness

Marc-Andre Fleury could have used those 10 goals the Penguins have scored in their last two games.

The seven they put up in Game 5 against the Ottawa Senators was as many as they had scored in Fleury’s previous five games.

So what is it that makes the Penguins play better when Matt Murray, who pitched a shutout in Game 5, is between the pipes?

If Murray had anything to do with those seven goals, he should be immediately put in the Hockey Hall of Fame the next time he’s in Toronto.

Could it be that Fleury’s teammates have so much confidence in him that they see no need to take defense seriously or score more than a goal or two?

That would be assuming that they’re capable of turning the offensive machine off and on and nobody’s that good.

What’s a lot more likely is that, in Game 4, Murray benefited from playing behind a desperate team that had been embarrassed 48 hours earlier and was bound to play much better.

Some tactical adjustments, such as putting a banger on every line, obviously had something to do with it, but no more than the increased desperation and the quest for atonement.

In Game 5, when it’s two games apiece, neither team has the edge in desperation and the Penguins had every reason to be confident that what worked in Game 4 would work in Game 5.

And let’s face it. The Penguins are just the better team.

They are 12-2 after losses in the playoffs since Sullivan hook over. That’s a sign of a team that is capable of adjusting and learning from its mistakes and it’s usually a result of really good coaching.

And don’t forget Sullivan’s assistants. Rick Tocchet and Jacques Martin. Both could be on their way to getting another shot as a head coach.

But the series isn’t over. Every seven-game series in the history of sports that went the full seven had somebody up three games to two after five.

The first few minutes will probably decide it, same as Games 3 and 5. If the Senators can bury a couple in the first few minutes, you can probably count on another meeting at the Paint Can Thursday night.

In a seven game series the best team usually wins and it usually takes less than seven games, so the Penguins are about where they should be against an over-achieving lower seed.

The Penguins will be favored and if I were forced to bet on the game, my money would be on them.

My advice: Don’t bet on it.

–If the Penguins win five more games, Mike Sullivan, aside from establishing himself as the slam dunk best coach in Penguins history, will have claimed a spot on Pittsburgh’s  Mt. Rushmore of Sports. He would be only the second pro coach in Pittsburgh history to win back-to-back championships.

The other is Chuck Noll, who did it twice. Pretty exclusive company.

Not bad for a guy who was in the minor leagues a year and a half ago.

–We may be getting a little ahead of ourselves here but, if the Penguins win the Stanley Cup this year, they’ll probably be the favorites to win it again next year. Winning back-to-back-to back Cups would put this Penguins team in the discussion with the Steelers of the ‘70s.

–And another if: What if the Penguins win the Cup this year and make it three for Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to Mario Lemieux’s two? Do we apply the Tom Brady rule and declare either one or both better than Lemieux?


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