|Carolina's Scott Walker swings at Boston's Aaron Ward.|
It's the same old hockey story played over and over and over.
One team falls behind by three or four goals. In the final minutes, the sore losers, in an attempt to either "set a tone" for the next meeting or actually injure an opponent or two, load up on the cheap shots. Some see this as manliness, intelligent people see it for the chicken-hearted display it is.
We've been seeing it through the NHL post-season, with face washes and punches in the hundreds of scrums that are allowed to take place after virtually every whistle.
Yesterday, we saw more of it, and in games that were blowouts.
First, in the dying seconds of the Anaheim-Detroit game with the Wings ahead 4-1, Ducks defenceman Sheldon Brookbank, normally tethered to go no further than the opponents blueline, swooped in all the way to the faceoff dot and crosschecked Detroit centre Darren Helm to the ice.
There was a penalty called as time expired, but what did it matter? Game was over, Brookbank got his free shot in and everybody says, "That's hockey."
Later, in a more serious incident, Carolina's Scott Walker cold-cocked Boston defenceman Aaron Ward in the final moments of what was a 4-0 Bruins victory.
The picture says it all. There's Ward, with his hands by his sides, and there's Walker, with his glove off ready to pop his opponent with a punch that may or may not have broken Ward's orbital bone.
If it's during a hard-fought game, the incident never happens. But the game was out of hand, Walker didn't like the treatment Ward was giving Matt Cullen and he knew it was free cheap shot time.
Will the league do anything? Its sounds unlikely, although there will be a hearing on the matter today in New York. In fact - you're gonna love this - the league will probably RESCIND part of the in-game punishment handed down to Walker for the instigator penalty he received.
So it may not just be that Walker won't be suspended. He may be partially vindicated, with some of the 17 penalty minutes he was given taken away.
Basically, the thinking may be that it was up to Ward to defend himself, not up to Walker to restrain himself.
Hard to believe, but that's where this may be headed. Moreover, Ward and Helm both showed that the players on the team that is winning a lopsided game basically become pinatas for the sore losers on the other side.
Solution? Well, if Brookbank had to serve his two-minute minor to start Game 6 in Anaheim tomorrow, do you think his own coach, Randy Carlyle, would allow him to get away with his cheap shot?
Walker got his 17 minutes worth of penalties with only 2:47 left in the third period. What if he had to serve those penalties at the start of Game 6 in Raleigh tomorrow night?
This we know. Suspensions don't seem to slow these guys down.