Upon further review, Dustin Byfuglien doesn’t deserve to be disciplined for his cross-check to the neck of JT Miller…
April Fools. He absolutely does.
Simply put, there is no excuse for the way Dustin Byfuglien played during Tuesday night’s game against the New York Rangers.
Twice during the game, the Jets defenseman made highly questionable decisions by hitting both JT Miller and Mats Zuccarello in their necks. Only once, on the hit to Zuccarello in the waning minutes of the game, was Byfuglien held accountable (if you can call a minor penalty being held accountable).
Both plays, a cross-check on Miller during the second period and a shove from behind on Zuccarello in the third, were borderline dirty, and Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti were not shy in stating that as fact during the broadcast. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault also didn’t hold back when asked about the cross-check during his post-game press-conference, saying it was “violent, deliberate, and could’ve broken his neck.”
Now, do two plays in one game automatically make Byfuglien a dirty player? Absolutely not. Byfuglien is a very good player with a slap shot that should scare anyone. But he made two plays, one of which was utterly inexcusable, that now has him deserving of a suspension.
With a league that talks quite a bit about cutting down on dangerous plays and hits to the head, it would be an absolute travesty if Byfuglien walks away with no disciplinary action from the NHL.
Former Ranger backup netminder Steve Valiquette was correct in saying during MSG Network’s post-game that the play was gruesome. It was. But he was also spot on in saying that Miller’s turning of Byfuglien inside-out on his up-ice pass to Kreider for the game-winning goal was indeed “poetic.”
Keeping a long story short, Miller is incredibly lucky that he was able to walk away from last night’s game without a serious injury, and the end result could have certainly been far worse. But it does not change the fact that Byfuglien deserves some sort of discipline for his questionable play against the Rangers on Tuesday.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) April 1, 2015
For Miller, it was a well-deserved Broadway Hat.
Jake Gittler is now in his second season as a contributing member of The Hockey Writers. After spending the 2014-15 season working in Communications for Adirondack Flames of the AHL and covering the New York Rangers here for The Hockey Writers, Jake’s coverage has been switched over to the Colorado Avalanche for the 2015-16 season. Jake can be reached via email at Jakegittler@gmail.com, or on Twitter @Jgittler_hockey.