Following the heated affair that was the Tampa Bay Lightning/Florida Panthers game on Saturday night, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety was quite busy. The two teams combined for 156 penalty minutes (118 in the third period alone) and featured more misconduct penalties (9) than goals (6). Two players from Florida, MacKenzie Weegar and Brandon Montour, were fined $5,000 each by the league while the harshest discipline was handed out to the Lightning Patrick Maroon. “The Big Rig” was suspended for one game by the league for roughing Montour.
Tampa Bay’s Pat Maroon has been suspended for one game for unsportsmanlike conduct for his actions during last night’s game against Florida. https://t.co/eWrrx7F6v1— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) May 9, 2021
As you can see by their video, the Department of Player Safety wasn’t happy with the fact that Maroon circled back and reengaged Montour after the officials had separated the two players. That’s long been a no-no for players and rightfully deserves the punishment handed down by the league. Once the initial bout is over, there is no need to reignite it, this isn’t the 70s anymore. There is a literal rule about in in the NHL rule book. Rule 46.5:
Continuing or Attempting to Continue a Fight: Any attempts to continue a fight or to throw punches after the referees have ordered the players to stop or after the linesmen have jumped in to break up the fight will lead to a misconduct or game misconduct penalty to the offending player.
This is the second time in his career that Maroon has been suspended by the league. Back in 2018 he was suspended for two games while playing for the Edmonton Oilers for an illegal hit to the head of Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty.
While the scrum with Montour was the reason for the suspension, the ill will in the game had been building almost from the start. Maroon was in the middle when he inadvertently slashed Sergei Bobrovsky’s glove hand on a shot from the point early in the game. That drew a crowd around the net and pretty much set the tone for the game.
Things really escalated in the third when Owen Tippet shouldered Anthony Cirelli to the ice and Ross Colton took exception to the hit:
Ross Colton body slams Owen Tippett to the ice for a hit on Anthony Cirelli okay then, rook. pic.twitter.com/ePvG7nEuiJ— Grace Remington (@GraceRemiWTSP) May 9, 2021
Nothing wrong with the initial hit by Tippet, he just caught Cirelli off-balance and finished him off. As for Colton, as much as some Panthers fans want to compare what Colton did to what Tom Wilson did to Artemi Panarin earlier in the week, it’s not the same. For one thing Tippett still had his helmet on and Colton didn’t drive him into the ice head first.
Speaking of Wilson, it’s a little tiresome to seeing everything compared to his fine from the league. “If Wilson was fined $5,000, then x should be fined y” isn’t how this works. Every play, every incident is based on league-wide precedent, not some mythical Tom Wilson sliding chart. Maroon broke the rules and was punished for it. Just because the league screwed up the Wilson punishment doesn’t mean that Maroon didn’t deserve a game off before the playoffs.
Things progressively got worse from there as both teams finished every check, at one point, Yanni Gourde delivered a hit along the boards roughly four seconds after the puck had left the area. Weeger delivered a two-handed punch to Mathieu Joseph’s face to earn his $5k fine and then the final brewhaha took place when Montour speared Maroon.
Ummm yeah. I found the spearing. And I’ll just saw Montour is lucky Maroon didn’t murder him to begin with. pic.twitter.com/Hp0d7DML1l— Bolts Jolts (@BoltsJolts) May 9, 2021
Those plays alone were enough to excite fans on both sides of the game and didn’t include Luke Schenn plastering Sam Bennett along the boards (and the subsequent fight against Ryan Lomberg), Ondrej Palat’s crosscheck/boarding of Noel Accairi, Accairi putting Barclay Goodrow in the bench, the subsequent Accairi/Goodrow fight, and a lot of pushing, shoving, facewashing after the whistle (especially at the end of the second period).
It’s obvious that these two teams don’t like each other, but as to how far it will carry over into their playoff match-up, that part might be a little overblown. There will be some big hits and a fight or two, but some of the “reckless” penalties, to use Coach Cooper’s word, will most likely be avoided because no one wants to put their team shorthanded in the postseason by getting suspended for a game or two.
There may be some carry over in Monday’s game, but with Maroon out and both teams focused on getting ready for the playoffs it may just end with another fight or two and they move past it. There is a good chance that the Lightning run out a similar line-up that they did on Saturday with a vast majority of their star players on the sidelines as they rest up for the first round.
Who knows, maybe Coach Cooper fully capitulates home-ice advantage and suits up Gemel Smith for Brayden Point and Daniel Walcott for Ondrej Palat. Give the big guns a full week off before the playoffs while making sure they’re not injured in any type of shenanigans wouldn’t be a bad move.