Sunday, April 22, 2012

Making The Case For Chris Neil

So the Sens took their 2nd game in Manhattan Saturday night, a shutout win no less, but that wasn't what dominated the post game talk. Instead, John Tortorella made it his mission to call out Chris Neil for his hit on Brian Boyle. It was a hit that Torts compared to Raffi Torres' that earned him the massive 25 game suspension just a few short days ago. After I got over laughing at the comparison of the two, I started to see that this was the action of a desperate man, who's #1 seeded team is just one loss away to an undermanned #8 seed.

Nevertheless I thought it was time to look into the incident more. I watched the replay about 20 times from different feeds and angles. If you missed the play in question I've posted the video above, but after watching it over and over, I've come to the conclusion that it was a clean play. It was a hard hit for sure, and one that may keep Boyle out of game 6 with a concussion (we'll see), and while it's unfortunate he was hurt on the play, that doesn't mean it's suspension worthy. Time to make the case for Chris Neil's innocence.

This was screen capture was taken directly from the New York Rangers own feed from the Madison Square Garden Network. I paused it at the point of impact between Neil and Boyle. Tortorella can compare it to Torres all he wants but the facts are the facts and he's wrong. You can clearly see that Neil's feet are both on the ice and that he is hitting Boyle's shoulder/entire body, as opposed to the headshot Tortorella is claiming.

Once again this is from MSG Network and it's a close up of the play at the point of impact. You can clearly see that Neil has not left his feet and that he hasn't thrown an elbow. You can also clearly see that Neil is delivering a clean check to the body of Boyle, not his head. Now compare the above image to this still of the Torres hit when you can see he has left his feet and is hitting Hossa in the head and you begin to realize how ludicrous the comparison of the 2 hits are. 

It wreaks of a move from a desperate man trying to take the attention off of his highly favorited team that's choking to a huge underdog at the moment. If the media is talking about the hit, they're not talking about the Rangers being one game away from being eliminated by the Senators.

Now here's a segment from the same MSG post game show, where even the home town guys can't agree that it's anything that bad. At worst it's a borderline hit maybe but not suspension worthy. I can't even believe there's so much discussion about it to be honest, but when you're losing you have to manufacture excuses and a reason to talk about something else, so I'm not surprised Torts is trying to get Neil suspended for a game they need to win to keep their season alive.

 For me, after looking at all the evidence, it's a questionable hit if you're a Ranger fan, and a clean hit if you're a Sens fan or impartial observer. But that's just it, it's only questionable and not clearly dirty. Take Neil's status as never being a previous offender and he skates clear of this no problem. In fact I'd be shocked if he even gets a call from Shanahan regarding the play.

Do you agree or disagree on my assessment?


Keira said...

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Anonymous said...

Nice breakdown nailed it!!! Absolutely agree with you here...

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Anonymous said...

Not a fan of Chis Neil, but there's no way this hit calls for a suspension or any further action. Scott Stevens wouldn't even be allowed on the ice these days.