Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy apparently is in the minority when it comes to evaluating the heat-seeking missile-like and unnecessary hit that Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele laid on Montreal Canadiens forward Jake Evans in the final minute of the Canadiens’ 5-3 win in Game 1 of the North Division Final.
With 57 seconds left in regulation and the Habs up 4-3, Evans hustled down, grabbed the puck behind the empty Jets net, wrapped around, and deposited the empty-net goal to seal the win for Montreal. Before he could even look up to celebrate, Mark Scheifele drilled him into oblivion with a late and what many are calling a dirty hit. Mark Scheifele – who had been boiling up emotionally in the third period – had skated from the other end of the rink and clearly had no intent to play the puck and instead was only focused on hitting Evans.
Mark Scheifele was assessed a five-minute major for charging and ejected from the game. He was scheduled to have a phone hearing with the NHL Department Of Player Safety on Thursday. The maximum suspension that can result from a phone hearing is five games.
On Thursday, prior to his team’s Game 3 tilt with the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum, Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was asked what he thought about the controversial Mark Scheifele hit?
“Wow. That was a play you don’t see very often in hockey, where a guy comes out the other side, especially with the empty net. I guarantee you Evans did not expect to get hit in that circumstance,” Cassidy said. “Five-on-five play, when you come around the net on a wraparound, I think the puck-carrier usually is anticipating some level of confrontation, but I don’t think he expected it at all. I don’t know — I watched replays, but I haven’t seen it down to the frame if he went through his head first or his shoulder. That’s the part that I’m sure they’ll look at.
I know he traveled distance, so that’s gonna be brought up. I don’t think, it looked like to me, there was any maliciousness intended in the hit. It just sort of developed, and it was there and he took it. But boy, it was a tough one to take. I hope first and foremost — I have not heard a report medically if their player is doing well. I hope he is. Obviously, that’s the first thing you think of. It’ll be an interesting one because you don’t see that particular play a lot, how the NHL’s going to handle that.”
While Cassidy downplayed the Mark Scheifele hit and intent, Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo didn’t hold back and called it out as a play that shouldn’t be in the game anymore. Carlo of course was on the receiving end of a late hit from Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson earlier in the season and suffered a concussion.
“Just circumstantial in the game, it’s not necessary,” Carlo said. “It is hard to see. You never want to see guys get hurt. Especially in situations where it could’ve been avoided, that is tough. Overall, I think it’s on the individual player to make the right decision there. You just obviously have a heartfelt, going-out to the player there. You hope that he’s OK.
“I’ve been in that position. It’s not fun. So yeah, I really think that stuff in the game, it just isn’t necessary. There’s obviously times when emotions are high and you might get a little bit of red brain and not really know what’s going on, but I think we all need to have that control.”