Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe’s prediction that the Maple Leafs’ opening round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning would be ‘borderline violent’ has come to fruition in their first game.
The two teams combined for 114 penalty minutes when they last met. On Monday, they topped that number.
The Leafs and Lightning racked up 122 minutes in penalties – 64 to Toronto and 58 to Tampa – during the Maple Leafs’ 5-0 Game One win. Seven players were in double-digit PIMs, led by Jan Rutta (17 PIM) and Corey Perry (16) of the Bolts and Toronto’s Kyle Clifford (15) and Morgan Rielly (15).
Clifford amped up the animosity with a dangerous hit on Tampa’s Ross Colton early in the first period.
Clifford was given a major for boarding along with a game misconduct by referees Brian Pochmara and Dan O’Rourke.
“Cliff’s hit it not a hit you can make there,” Keefe said after the game. The officials obviously agreed.
Here’s Rule 41 – Boarding:
Boarding – A boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously. The severity of the penalty, based upon the impact with the boards, shall be at the discretion of the Referee.
There is an enormous amount of judgment involved in the application of this rule by the Referees. The onus is on the player applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a defenseless position and if so, he must avoid or minimize contact. However, in determining whether such contact could have been avoided, the circumstances of the check, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the check or whether the check was unavoidable can be considered. This balance must be considered by the Referees when applying this rule.
The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a major penalty, based on the degree of violence of the impact with the boards, to a player guilty of boarding an opponent.
When a major penalty is imposed under this rule for a foul resulting in an injury to the face or head of an opponent, a game misconduct shall be imposed.
Clifford left the game, but the teams were still fired up.
A Wayne Simmonds hit on Jan Rutta sparked a line brawl that resulted in 61 minutes in penalties.
PLAYOFF HOCKEY pic.twitter.com/xLEHf63mjd
— Spittin’ Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) May 3, 2022
This was the most-penalized game of the season – and the highest postseason total in seven years.
Leafs/Bolts was the most-penalized game of 2021-22 (122 PIM).
Highest in the regular season:
OTT/FLA: 103 PIM (3/3/22)
TOR/TBL: 101 PIM (4/21/22)
Most in a playoff game since CGY/VAN on 4/17/15 (127 PIM) #TBLvsTOR
— Scouting The Refs (@ScoutingTheRefs) May 3, 2022
“The first round is always chaos,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “It’s organized chaos. The guys are pumped up.”
We’ll see how things play out in Game 2. There’s no question that series officiating manager Paul Devorski will be going over some notes with the refs assigned to work Wednesday night.