It was a contentious Atlantic Division rivalry game between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night, and both sides have the bruises to show for it. The Leafs were down to four defensemen in the 6-4 win over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden when Justin Holl and Ilya Lyubushkin left “for precautionary reasons” due to incidents during the game.
In fact, Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall was hit with some supplementary discipline from the league for the exchange with Lyubushkin. Hall was fined $5,000 by the NHL Department of Player Safety on Wednesday morning for “roughing” Lyubushkin after getting thrown face-first into the side boards.
Boston’s Taylor Hall has been fined $5,000, the maximum allowable under the CBA, for Roughing Toronto’s Ilya Lyubushkin.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 30, 2022
The play in question occurred late in the second period with the Leafs blowing out the Bruins when Lyubushkin threw Hall from behind into the side boards as the two players battled for a nearby puck.
An incensed Hall got up, saw there was no boarding call from the refs after they’d whistled David Pastrnak for a borderline boarding call in the first period and then smacked Lyubushkin in the side of the head with a gloved punch. Lyubushkin immediately went down to the ice and was helped back to the Maple Leafs dressing where he never returned to the win for the Maple Leafs. Hall was called for a roughing minor penalty as a result of the incident.
The good news was that Lyubushkin’s Toronto teammates seemed to indicate he was doing okay following the game.
Morgan Rielly spoke to Lyubushkin after the game: “He seems like he’s going to be OK.”
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) March 30, 2022
Clearly the Toronto hockey media wasn’t doing as well postgame as they were calling for Hall’s head for a sucker punch that knocked the Leafs defenseman out of the game.
Taylor Hall sucker punches Ilya Lyubushkin. Hall got 2-minutes for roughing on the play.
Suspension, fine, or nothing? pic.twitter.com/aOZuOP9tkG
— Tim and Friends (@timandfriends) March 30, 2022
After the game, the Boston Bruins had issues with the officiating from Francois St. Laurent and Kendrick Nicholson not sticking with the boarding standard they’d set in the first period.
“Taylor got upset and rightfully so. [David Pastrnak] had a hard, clean hit earlier in the game [called boarding]. We were told nobody likes to receive a hit like that and we got the same hit [on Hall],” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “They’re communicating to us, and they have to back up their standard. If that’s their standard then that’s their standard, and it’s entirely up to them. So stick to your standard, I guess. I get why Taylor was upset.”
This humble hockey writer’s opinion: It was surprising to see a quick gloved jab like that seemingly do as much damage as it did, but the league (understandably) doesn’t look kindly on those kinds of blows to the head. It’s a tough call all around, but it doesn’t help Hall’s case that Lyubushkin never returned to the game.
On the other side, the Maple Leafs said they were simply ready to play through whatever physicality the Bruins were going to throw at them.
“If they want to go around and do that, they’re more than welcome to. It doesn’t bother us at all,” said Harvard University standout Alex Kerfoot.
The Leafs were going to take Wednesday off following the win, so there won’t be any health update on Lyubushkin until Thursday at the earliest.