Well, that's always going to be the case, because players are always going to try to be sneaky about hurting the other team's best players if they can get away with it, and I don't think that's ever going to change about the way referees call games. That said, Niskanen definitely crosschecked Crosby to the head, and while it really does look like it was a tough hit to avoid because of the way that Crosby was dipping, the truth is that Niskanen probably could have spun away or at he very least not used the stick on him. Different angles tend to generate diffent opinions. We've seen a few where it looked horrible and malicious, but a few others where it looked innocent and like neither player could do anything about it. It's impossible to figure out intent on this one, so how should we view the hit without knowing intent? It was a hit to the head, so the 5-minute major and game misconduct are merited, but beyond that it's very hard to imagine the NHL Department of Player meting out any further punishment. It's already looking like they will not.
I think we're all going to see what we want to see on the Niskanen hit, but that's 5 and game because it's 87 injured. Full stop.— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) May 2, 2017
It was an unfortunate turn of events, made even more maddening by the fact that there really is no concrete evidence to guide those tasked with deciding on appropriate discipline for Niskanen. There's just a whole lot of grey, black and blue, and nothing in between. All we can hope for now is a clean bill of health from Crosby in the not too distant future. The series will not be the same without him.
Indication right now is that Matt Niskanen is unlikely to receive any additional discipline from the league for his cross check on Crosby.— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) May 2, 2017