Let’s get one thing clear: Milan Lucic knew what he was doing. While it is a stretch to think that the hulking winger intended to deliberately hurt Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, it isn’t hard to believe that in a situation like that Lucic will hit whoever is in his way. That has always been his game and that edge is evident whenever he is playing at his best.
That being said, NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan made the correct decision in not suspending Lucic. Despite the cries from the Buffalo faithful, what occurred that night was not a declaration of war on goalies but rather a statement of facts.
Truth be told players like Lucic and teams like the Bruins, when they are at their best, thrive when they ride these grey areas.
The real story here isn’t about the hit or the ruling (full disclosure: I wouldn’t complain if he had received a suspension) but about the true identities revealed that night in Boston. Miller is entitled to his opinion on Lucic but it’s not hard to see that perhaps it was his team’s lack of response that drove him to such frustration.
Over the course of their current win streak the Bruins have been playing with that coveted "edge" and "snarl" that provides energy while enraging the opposing team and throwing them off their game. No different than Brad Marchand’s battle with the Canucks or Tim Thomas claiming his territory.
As for Miller and the "goalies are not fair game" argument, he has a case but what must always be considered is balance. Too much leeway given to the other side and goalies can freely pull a Dominik Hasek flip and get away with it.
This is where Shanahan made the correct ruling. It is not his job to rule in favor of one side or the other, or foster a double standard. It is his job to protect players, and despite Miller’s injury it was clear that Lucic did not aim for the head. The intent was to hit, but it was not to injure.
From Puck Daddy :
"You run a goalie, you're going to find yourself in the same situation Lucic was today," said Shanahan, the NHL's senior vice president of player safety and hockey operations, as he walked into the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony Monday night. "You're going to have to explain yourself, and if you don't explain it sufficiently and if I don't buy it, you're going to be suspended."
The call on the ice was the correct one, give or take a few minutes, and the Bruins used that energy to dump six goals on the Sabres. They are now left wondering if Zach Kassian can be ready any sooner while the Bruins continue to climb the standings.
To their credit the Bruins don’t look to be changing their ways anytime soon, and while that may anger opposing teams and their fans, you don’t win a Cup without a fight.