Ottawa Senators forward Chris Neil laid a bone-crushing hit on Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman last night when Neil swooped around the net and caught Hedman trying to play the puck with his head down. The rookie defenseman rolled over and stayed on the ground for a moment but eventually got up and made his way to the bench where he looked slightly shaken up but in otherwise good shape. Tampa Bay forward Steve Downie immediately jumped Neil and dropped the gloves to try to get retribution for the hit, but Downie ended up getting the worst of their short bout.
Hedman said that he feels okay after the hit, but he is still listed as day-to-day and did not practice with his team today in Montreal and is unlikely to play in Saturday’s contest against the Canadiens.
“I didn’t see it, but I’ve been told it was a clean hit,” Hedman said. “I was behind my net, I was trying to pass the puck back to (Mattius Ohlund) and tried to reach for it and he just came and ran over me. So then I couldn’t play. I was a bit shaky there, so it’s day to day. I can’t rush things. Just take it slow.”
Neil is known for his energy and physical style of play, which often times results in big momentum shifts for the Senators. Neil has three points and 48 penalty minutes on the season.
Here’s what I like about this hit: Neil comes around the net to play Hedman and notices that Hedman has his head down, so Neil goes for the hit. He braces for the impact, but he manages to keep his elbows down and doesn’t lead into the hit with his shoulder like we’ve already seen too many times this season. Neil catches Hedman pretty square in the chest and proceeds to literally run him over. The video shows a really great look at the hit about :36 seconds in when they slow down the hit as Neil comes around the back of the net. You can see Neil hit Hedman square and just follow through with the check.
It’s somewhat ironic that Downie comes in to defend his teammate after a completely clean hit when Downie has a history of delivering dirty hits. Anyone remember when he destroyed Dean McAmmond a few years back as McAmmond came around the back of the net? Downie not only leads with his shoulder but he leaves his feet for the hit, too.