Maybe my first reaction to Zac Rinaldo's hit on Jonathan Ericsson last night was a bit unfair. I called it "embarrassing," and maybe I fell victim to judging Rinaldo on his reputation more than the actual merits of the hit itself.
Reaction in real-time seemed to be about 50-50, with plenty of people believing Rinaldo went high on Ericsson and plenty of people blaming the Wings' defenseman for admiring his hit. Let's go to the tape.
Rinaldo was given a two-minute minor for charging, a punishment Red Wings fans were happy with last night when I joined Winging It In Motown's weekly podcast to talk about the game.
I don't think there's any denying that's a fair call. Rinaldo gives up five inches to Ericsson and basically hits him in the chin, which might just be physically impossible without coming off your skates before the hit. It's definitely a charge, but is it worth anything more than a two-minute minor penalty?
It's definitely high, and it could be seen as a head hit, but it's tough to tell whether or not he makes the head the principal point of contact or if he catches somewhere just below the head. It wasn't a terribly late hit -- after the pass, yeah, but not considerably long after the pass -- but it is a charge. I feel like it sort of falls in some gray area a bit, and that it's completely open to interpretation. Rinaldo has a hearing with Brendan Shanahan this afternoon, so we'll see how he interprets it.
Bottom line, though, is that Rinaldo really just should've stayed on his skates. If he did that, this is one of the best hits of the year. By leaping into it, however, he's leaving suspension on the table as a legitimate option.