The NHL didn’t give Lindy Ruff another chance to hammer on the justice process. They suspended Jordin Tootoo for two games based on his actions on Saturday against the Sabres.
Surely there are Sabres fans up in arms over this ruling, but it is an appropriate sentence for the play.
Realistically, Tootoo’s sentence is right in line with the play from Saturday. You might even say Tootoo probably shouldn’t have had to answer beyond his five minute major and game misconduct on Saturday had the NHL gotten it right the first time. The NHL’s reasoning behind giving Lucic a pass was he didn’t show intent to hit Miller, despite what looked like obvious evidence to the contrary. In comparing the two incidents one could conclude there was plenty more intent from Lucic than Tootoo. Regardless, Lucic’s actions deserved a few games in the press box, the NHL didn’t see it that way and it left the door open for further incidents.
To Tootoo’s credit, he looked to be giving some effort to avoid Miller while also throwing his body at the superstar. Yes, a major contradiction. But it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say Tootoo was hoping to hit Miller while avoiding him, one of those accidentally on purpose things. So, the Shanahammer made his “statement” and gave Tootoo a couple of nights off in order to appease the masses.
Will this end all of the huffing and puffing? Not by a long shot. This was nothing more than a slap on the wrist and won’t send the message that players will miss significant time if this is to continue. This play wasn’t as violent as the Lucic hit, so the league was in a tough spot. It was a lose-lose situation but they seem to have lost big time with the choice they made. For what it’s worth, the days of gongshow hockey and freight train attacks on goalies are few and far between. Still, for this to happen to Miller in each of his last two outings looked to be more than a coincidence and something needed to be done.
The league didn’t do itself any favors with an elementary school punishment. The play certainly didn’t warrant 15 games, but a two-game sentence harkens back to the days of Colin Campbell. It certainly doesn’t signal a serious change in the way the league hopes to operate.
The story from last night is focused on the Jordin Tootoo hit on Ryan Miller. What may be lost is the fact that Buffalo managed to get back into the win column on the legs of a great goaltending performance and a three goal night, despite being badly outshot.
The Tootoo incident is tough to diagnose. The original camera angle looks like a hockey play, it is the reverse angle that shows there may have been a little more intent on Tootoo’s part to collide with Miller. Obviously the argument over his reputation will be a big topic regarding the play, but there seems to be two key ingredients that will likely result in a suspension. It is tough to say if Tootoo could have found his way behind the net, but that will certainly be an issue. Tootoo jumped into the hit and made some effort to avoid Miller but his effort also helped carry him further into the goaltender. Based on the precedent set from the Lucic hit, Tootoo will get a pair of games. If this was a solitary incident, he may escape justice.
Regardless of that play, the Sabres played a neat game that was worthy of two points. Miller was certainly the difference for the Sabres – they were outshot 34-14 – but the line of Luke Adam, Ville Leino and Zack Kassian came to play too.
Based on the recent track record of this team, two points is a step in the right direction. The next step will be to carry the play on their way to a sound victory.
- Zack Kassian will need to go back to the AHL at some point. He clearly has the chops to play at the NHL level, he just needs to refine a few portions of his game (defensive zone, skating). Kassian’s goal is one that Sabres fans will see a lot more of. At one time Kassian was a pretty prime piece for a major trade, now he might be an “untouchable prospect.”
- Joe Finley was only so-so in his NHL debut. Considering he is finally turning a corner in his development, he may still have a few more steps to take. He wasn’t horrible in these two games, which was certainly a possibility.
- Ville Leino notched his first multi-point game in Buffalo. That is a good step for a guy who looks to be struggling to adopt “the system”. He is working well with Kassian and Adam – he has worked well with a few lines this season, but they haven’t been kept together. Depending on the length of Boyes’ injury, this line could stay together for quite a while. That is promising for all three players, not just Leino.
- Miller had a good game. His highway robbery in the third period was great to see. That is one of those saves that make people put him in the top ten among the NHL’s goaltenders each season. His big test will come Wednesday against Philly. He had a rough outing last time and will certainly need to right the ship on home ice.
- Christian Ehrhoff is in straight up beast mode. He is playing major minutes in major situations and is playing well. He also just about ripped off Patric Horqvist’s head after he hit Miller twice in the third. Major props.
- Only other thought regarding Miller and Tootoo is that the cards fell in an awfully coincidental manner. Tootoo, Miller in his first game back, first game since gettin bowled over by Lucic. Tootoo may have tried to avoid Miller, but given the circumstances it seems fishy.
1. Luke Adam
2. Ryan Miller
3. David Legwand