We all expected the Nashville / Detroit playoff series would be a wild one highlighted by physical play between two teams that really, really don't like each other.
In the waning seconds of Nashville's victory in Game 1, Shea Weber proved just how much animosity there is between the Predators and Red Wings. As Weber battled with Henrik Zetterberg for the puck right as the final horn sounded, he shoved Zetterberg's head to the boards. As if that wasn't enough, Weber firmly grasped the back of Zetterberg's head and forcefully shoved it into the glass crossing the line between competitive play and a completely dirty hit.
Weber's actions earned a two-minute penalty for roughing, a call that was mostly a formality seeing as the game had already concluded. Will the NHL discipline Weber further for his actions? It seems like a good possibility given the intent and intense violent nature of his hit.
If Weber does see some sort of NHL discipline, which he probably should, it will come as a huge blow to the Nashville Predators. Weber is the team's best defenseman and plays an intricate part in the club's overall offensive scheme. In 78 regular season games in 2011-12, Weber contributed 19 goals and 30 assists. He would be impossible to replace if he is forced to sit out for any length of time.
From the neutral fan's point of view, Weber should be suspended. The NHL has made it publicly known that they want to cut down on violent hits that can cause serious injuries, specifically those to the head. Here Weber grabbed an opponent by the head and intentionally smashed it into the glass with the clear intent to injure. There's no defense for Weber here. This was not an accident. If the NHL is to be taken seriously, Weber needs to be suspended for at least a game or two if not longer. There's no room for these types of hits in the NHL. Playoffs are not, Weber needs to sit for his actions.
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Simply put, this was definitely the kind of act that deserves a suspension. No apparent injury. So what? He still grabbed Zetterberg's head and tried to ram it into the glass. Zetterberg got his glove in the way to soften the blow. So what? Did you miss the part where Weber grabbed the guys head AND TRIED TO RAM IT INTO THE GLASS?
I am not now, was not in the past, and will not in the future be a fan of the Detroit Red Wings. I absolutely want them and Nashville to punish each other physically with legal hits for a full seven game series. Emphasis on legal hits. This kind of bush league crap doesn't improve the game for anybody, and if Shanahan for whatever reason can't find it within himself to apply some serious supplemental discipline to this case, I hope the Wings dress whoever they have who counts as a bruiser and have him drop the gloves with Weber at the earliest possible opportunity in game two. (Of course, back in the day, that's how this would have been handled, and been left at that, but maybe the league has moved beyond this a little, in terms of how much the players police the game.)