New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba leveled New Jersey Devils forward Timo Meier during the third period of Monday’s Game 7 with a hit that was ruled legal by the on-ice officials and Player Safety.
Meier carried the puck across the blueline into the Rangers’ zone. Trouba, just off the bench, lined up Meier – moving laterally – and delivered a hard body check, that included contact with Meier’s head.
Meier remained down on the ice before being helped off by the Devils’ medical staff. He later returned to the game.
Referees Wes McCauley and Gord Dwyer did not call a penalty on the play. With no major penalty called on the ice, the officials are not able to review the play.
Here’s Rule 48:
Illegal Check to the Head [is defined as] a hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable is not permitted. In determining whether contact with an opponent’s head was avoidable, the circumstances of the hit including the following shall be considered:
(i) Whether the player attempted to hit squarely through the opponent’s body and the head was not “picked” as a result of poor timing, poor angle of approach, or unnecessary extension of the body upward or outward.
(ii) Whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position by assuming a posture that made head contact on an otherwise full body check unavoidable.
(iii) Whether the opponent materially changed the position of his body or head immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit in a way that significantly contributed to the head contact.
For violation of this rule, a minor penalty shall be assessed. 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.
Trouba’s hit was in line with section i, with the defenseman ‘attempting to hit squarely through the opponent’s body’ – unlike Toronto’s Michael Bunting, who was suspended three games for raising his shoulder and elbow to pick the head of Erik Cernak.
The officials also considered section ii of the rule, citing that Meier put himself in a vulnerable position by lowering his body.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety will not be leveraging any supplemental discipline for the hit, Scouting the Refs has learned. That decision is not affected by the Rangers’ elimination from the playoffs.
Whether you like the hit or not, under the current rule book, it’s legal.
Trouba and Meier appeared to have an amicable chat during the post-game handshake line. There was no ‘I can’t believe I shook this guy’s friggin’ hand‘ moment here.
Awesome to see this from Meier and Trouba in the handshake line after that brutal hit pic.twitter.com/DAb9t2ujrg
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) May 2, 2023
Referees for the game were Wes McCauley (#4) and Gord Dwyer (#19), with linesmen Bevan Mills (#53) and Scott Cherrey (#50).