On Monday night, the Calgary Flames faced the Montreal Canadiens in the final game of their three game road trip. The Flames played pretty well and just couldn’t muster enough offence in a 2-1 shootout loss, but they dodged a bit of an injury bullet late in the second period on a hit from Montreal’s Nick Suzuki on Nazem Kadri.
Based on the nature of the hit, it’s worth wondering what the Department of Player Safety will think about the incident.
Is this hit by Nick Suzuki on Nazem Kadri a suspendible offence or just a penalty? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/39jHthSfnl
— Tim and Friends (@timandfriends) December 13, 2022
So here’s how it went down:
- Kadri had possession of the puck just inside the Montreal blueline and was moving laterally parallel to the line, being pursued by Montreal defenceman Arber Xhekaj.
- A poke-check by Montreal forward Mike Hoffman separated Kadri from the puck, which remained along the blueline. Kadri continued moving laterally away from the puck, pursued by Xhekaj.
- Suzuki approached Kadri, moving in the opposite direction as Kadri but also moving laterally.
- Kadri was engaged with Xhekaj and following the puck (which was behind Xhekaj along the blueline) and didn’t notice Suzuki’s approach until they collide, with Suzuki’s shoulder hitting Kadri’s head and Suzuki’s right knee hitting Kadri’s right knee from behind, causing him to spin around violently. Both Suzuki and Kadri ever-so-slightly turn towards the neutral zone before the collision in anticipation of the play moving up the ice.
- Xhekaj was touching Kadri’s back with his glove immediately before the collision, but it’s tough to determine if he shoved Kadri into Suzuki’s path.
What could Kadri do to avoid the collision? Not much, as he was engaged with Xhekaj for position and was following the play up the ice. Suzuki saw Kadri coming the whole time – or should have – as the direction of Kadri’s approach and the direction of the puck were essentially on the same side of the ice. Kadri’s slight turn up ice, coupled with Suzuki’s own turn, seemed to catch Suzuki by surprise.
Kadri was down on the ice clutching his head, but got up on his own and left the ice under his own power. Kadri went to the locker room to be evaluated with 5:22 left in the second period, but returned for the start of the third period and finished the game.
Was the hit predatory on Suzuki’s part? Nope. Did Kadri put himself in a vulnerable position? Not really, as his movement and turn towards the neutral zone seems pretty standard in terms of general transition play. Did Suzuki misread his own speed and Kadri’s movement before the collision? Possibly.
There was no injury, Suzuki’s conduct was at worst reckless (and definitely not predatory), and Suzuki has no supplemental discipline history. At the very most, Suzuki gets a fine, but it seems likely that he doesn’t receive any supplemental discipline at all.
Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Let us know in the comments!