Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ristolainen Suspended Three Games for Guentzel Hit

Sabres' defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has been handed a three-game suspension for his jarring hit on Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel during Pittsburgh's 3-1 win over the Sabres on Tuesday (see hit above).

Here's the NHL's explanation of the Ristolainen's offense:

A few opinions:

First and foremost, Guentzel never touched the puck on the play and therefore was not eligible to get hit, let alone PLASTERED.

Second, for those vehemently stating Ristolainen was committed to the hit prior to Crosby's pass to Guentzel being deflected, it doesn't matter. Nobody is saying that Ristolainen is evil for this hit (well, Penguins fans probably are). But he is in violation of the rules and he did come at Guentzel with very little control, making head contact. This was a very dangerous play. Had Ristolainen not gotten Guentzel's head (the rookie is currently out of action with a concussion), the NHL surely would have been more lenient. But the main lesson here is that players need to police their hits, avoid the head and they need to play with enough control to avoid clobbering a player whether or not he actually recieves the pass and becomes eligible to hit.

Had Ristolainen been under control, he would have been able to see that Guentzel never got the puck and tailor his reaction accordingly. Because he came in at full speed, flying and skating backwards, he was not able to do so, hence the significant suspension.