It was all over the back page of the New York Post on the morning of Game 2, with normally uncontroversial netminder Martin Brodeur at the centre of a mini-controversy.
All over comments on the New York Rangers shot blocking tendencies that went largely unnoticed in the aftermath of the New Jersey Devils’ 3-0 loss in Game 1 on Monday.
“We might be able to hurt a few guys [by]hitting one-timers in the foot and their head or something,” Brodeur said.
The article raised enough of a stink that the Devils goaltender, who is not speaking on game days in these playoffs, issued a statement through a spokesman that his “off the cuff” comment wasn’t intended to be offensive.
“No one would think like that,” GM Lou Lamoriello told Devils reporter Rich Chere. “For anybody who knows Marty, it’s not an issue. People are looking for something. It’s the playoffs.”
It has been rather remarkable how healthy the Rangers have remained despite blocking some 20 shots a game, something that has been a core part of their game in winning nine of the 16 games required to take home the Stanley Cup.
If there’s now an injury as the result of a shot, expect it to generate plenty of discussion over the “intent” of the shooter.
Obviously there’s an “intent to injure” rule on the books already, one that comes with an automatic ejection and reads rather vague: “A match penalty shall be imposed on any player who deliberately attempts to injure or who deliberately injures an opponent in any manner.”
Whether or not a shot aimed at another player’s face would qualify isn’t certain, but officials would likely get into a situation where they couldn’t possibly tell if it was intentional or not.
Which makes one wonder: Are shot blockers simply fair game for whatever comes their way?
For their part, the Devils all said this wasn’t a strategy they’d ever employed in the past or intend to going forward.
Instead, their game plan is going to focus on generating more traffic in front of Henrik Lundqvist and being less picky with their shot locations.
“They’re boxing out well,” winger David Clarkson said in borrowing some basketball terminology. “This is playoff time: We’ve got to battle harder than they are to get to those spaces.”