The hit above has been the subject of conversation all day around here. Honestly, I can't see how it's possibly considered dirty.
From a strictly "rules of body checking" standpoint, let's break down the hit. Looking very closely at the video, Kunitz does not leave his feet before making contact with Kimmo. He might leave the ice after the hit, but there's nothing wrong with that. Was it a hit to the head? Sure, but that is just because Timonen is a short guy.
And was it an elbow? Hardly. Kunitz got his forearm up, but as Bill Clement said on Post Game Live yesterday and repeated again on the In The Slot program on XM today, if Kunitz got an elbow up, Timonen would still be looking up at the rafters right now. With the sheer force that Kunitz came in with, Kimmo would've been out for the count.
At the absolute worst, it could be considered a charge considering how much ground Kunitz covered to make the hit. But a cheapshot? Negative.
The players themselves spoke to the media about the incident today.
"You can tell that for sure, I didn’t have the puck. It was in the corner. If he is going into the game trying to hurt me, that’s fine. I don’t really care. Hopefully, we can do the same things to them tomorrow. It really doesn’t bother me unless I don’t stay healthy. I’m fine now. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, actually."
>> Kimmo Timonen
It was just one of those things where you’re going… I just came down to finish a check. I think it looked probably worse than it really was. I think he pulled away. It’s just one of those things you go out and play hard and try and finish your checks and we’ve been trying to do that all series.
>> Chris Kunitz
Should the Penguins be targeting Kimmo Timonen? You're damn right they should. Just as the Flyers should be targeting Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar each and every shift. That's hockey. At least, that's the style of hockey we preach in Philadelphia. Finish your checks. Play hard, and keep your freakin' head up.
Scott Hartnell did the right thing by going after Kunitz right away. He challenged him to a bout, and to his credit, Kunitz stepped up.
"I tapped him on the leg," said Hartnell. "He dropped the mitts. Even if it’s a clean hit or dirty hit, to drop the mitts, [he’s] a pretty honest player, Kunitz"
That's how it's supposed to be, and Mike Richards agrees.
“That’s kinda maybe our strategy," the Captain said. "Every chance I get, I’m trying to hit Malkin and Crosby and taking runs at Gonchar, too. I’m sure they’re not too thrilled about that, but its playoff hockey. That’s what you try to do. You get them off your game.”
If the game of hockey needs anything, it's that the referees need to step back a little bit. Allow the players to police themselves. If Chris Kunitz lays out Kimmo Timonen, let Scott Hartnell fight him and it's over. If Mike Richards hits Evgeni Malkin, let Brooks Orpik fight him and it's over. That's how hockey should be played.
We pride ourselves on hard-nosed, physical hockey in this city. So when another team plays the same way, let's not practice a double-standard. Accept it (applaud it even), and hit 'em harder next time.