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What's your take on the Charlie Coyle hit on Saturday night - penalty or no?
While the check delivered by Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle did result in contact to the head of Artem Anisimov of the Blue Jackets, a match penalty was not warranted to Coyle on the play.
Rule 48.5 informs us that, "The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head."
This was clearly not the case as Coyle and Anisimov raced for a loose puck along the side wall. Both players initially extended and reached for the puck. Coyle made a last split-second decision to play the body as Anisimov lowered his posture significantly and reached for the puck. The back part of Coyle's shoulder made contact to the head/face of Anisimov as he sealed the lane and delivered the check. In real time, the split-second decision Coyle made from playing the puck to making an intended body check did not constitute a deliberate attempt to injure Anisimov, nor do I believe he targeted the head. Artem Anisimov's head, however, was ultimately the principle point of contact and as such Coyle was subject to a minor penalty under Rule 48.2.
The Referee on the same side of the ice of the check and in the corner down the wall did not raise his arm on the play. That is not to say that he had a clean look at the play but just that he was not calling a penalty. The call was made by the Referee in the neutral zone on the opposite side of the ice. From this vantage point the set-up of the check by Coyle must have looked much worse and caused him to determine that Coyle was targeting Anisimov's head.
I do not like to see any player hit where the principle point of contact is to his head. Artem Anisimov placed himself in a very vulnerable position as he lowered his posture and reached for the puck when an attacker was within very close proximity. It might have been difficult for Charlie Coyle to pull up on his intended check once he made that commitment and as Artem lowered his posture to reach for the puck. However, based on the fact that Anisimov's head became the principle point of contact I would prefer that the minor penalty prescribed for in 48.2 had been assessed on this play.