In the third period of Friday night's 1-0 win in Game 5 of the Flyers' first-round series against the Capitals, Flyers winger Jakub Voracek played a puck up the ice along the wall and was immediately shoved into the boards by Capitals winger Jason Chimera. Voracek remained down for a couple of seconds before making his way up to his feet and the bench, and the Flyers would get a two-minute power play for Chimera's actions.
You can see the hit below, with some colorful commentary from CSN Philly's Chris Therien.
Chimeria hits Voracek across the letters. pic.twitter.com/Ry3y14ED9q— Joe Dought (@JoeR35h93) April 23, 2016
And another couple of angles, via Sportsnet.
Yes, Voracek turns slightly before the hit. No, that does not at all excuse Chimera, who was pretty clearly set on hitting Voracek as soon as he reached the neutral zone faceoff dot (about 20 feet away from the boards) and would still have likely sent him into the glass face-first had the turn not happened.
(As a sidebar, the hit was the Capitals' second boarding penalty of the series, not including a hit by Marcus Johansson in the second period on Friday that may have originally been called boarding but was ultimately ruled as roughing. All three of them were deemed minor penalties. The Capitals, via ESPN, were tied for third in the NHL this regular season in boarding penalties taken.)
Travis and Charlie both made note of the hit in their respective pieces on the game, but it bears some repeating: this is a bad, dirty, and dangerous hit, and the fact that Chimera only got two minutes for the hit seems, at the very least, highly questionable. As Charlie mentioned (and as Therien hints at in the clip above), the fact that Voracek got back up quickly and didn't appear to be seriously injured was probably a key factor in the penalty only being a minor -- compared to, say, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare's boarding of Dmitri Orlov, which got him a five-minute major, an ejection, and ultimately a one-game suspension:
Chimera is looking at Voracek's back during his entire route to the puck, and still chooses to level him. Considering the reckless nature of the hit, it would have been easily justifiable to give Chimera a five-minute major on the play. But the optics of the scene after the hit gave the officials an out -- Voracek skated away soon after, and certainly wasn't prone on the ice like Dmitry Orlov after Pierre-Edouard Bellemare boarded him in Game 3. Was Chimera's hit "less bad" than Bellemare's? Probably, considering the speed at which Bellemare was skating when he contacted Orlov. But Chimera's hit still warranted a five-minute major because of how unnecessary it was. I believe that on-ice officials too often base the severity of penalties upon whether there is an ugly post-hit scene, and this was a perfect example.
Dave Hakstol himself also couldn't help but point out that he felt the hit was significant, and that it should have been looked at the same way Bellemare's was.
First time I've ever heard Hakstol talk about questionable calls. Called Niskanen and Chimera's hits "every bit as impactful" as Bellemare's— Jeff Neiburg (@Jeff_Neiburg) April 23, 2016
(Hakstol is also referring to an open-ice hit on Brayden Schenn by Matt Niskanen in the third period. More on that hit here, via Sons of Penn.)
However, while the Flyers were clearly upset with Chimera's hit, they apparently declined to submit it to the Department of Player Safety for review the way the Capitals have with at least two Flyers hits/actions in this series. And the NHL will apparently not be acting further on the hit; The Fourth Period's David Strehle says that no additional discipline is expected for Chimera.
Told by league source there are no hearings for games last night, including hit from behind by WSH's Jason Chimera's on #Flyers Jake Voracek— David Strehle (@DStrehleTFP) April 23, 2016
While disappointing, a lack of suspension for Chimera is probably expected. For better or worse (read: worse), the NHL is loath to hand out big suspensions in the playoffs. If it's their view that Bellemare's hit -- which only picked up a one-game timeout -- was worse than Chimera's, then the fact that he'll receive no suspension is unsurprising.
Given that Chimera's third line has easily been Washington's weakest in the series, the Flyers -- while surely unhappy with the NHL's non-ruling on the hit -- are probably pretty OK with his still being in the lineup. It remains to be seen whether or not the Flyers will force Chimera to answer for his actions on Sunday, the way that the Capitals did (or, uh, tried to) with Schenn on Friday the game after his cross-check to Evgeny Kuznetsov in Game 4. The hope here, though, is that they won't get too caught up in retribution (and will instead focus on playing a bit better of an all-around game than they did on Friday night).
Game 6 is at noon on Sunday.