Niklas Kronwall Lays Devastating Hit on Martin Havlat In Game 3

05-22-09_sweda_hawk_8.jpgTotal Pro Sports –  Last night’s game three overtime victory for the Chicago Blackhawks not only provided a thrilling finish.  It also produced what many will be calling “the hit of the year”.  At least those who thought it was a legal one will likely be doing so.

With just under 7 minutes left in the first period, and the Blackhawks up 2-0, a slap pass from the point by Brad Stuart went wide and was sent around the boards in the Chicago zone.  Martin Havlat picked it up just inside his own blue line.  When he turned up ice, he was greeted with the shoulder of a charging Niklas Kronwall.  Chicago’s leading scorer in both the regular season and playoffs hit the ice hard and was out.  A scrum ensued around him as his teammates went after Kronwall in his defense.

As the rough stuff continued, the refs looked to break up the fights while protecting Havlat from players’ skates as he lay motionless on the ice.  Trainers then came out and a very wobbly Havlat was taken off the ice after several minutes.  He did not return.

Kronwall was assessed a 5 minute major and a game misconduct for interference.  The call was a questionable one.  Neither ref’s arm went up when the hit was made (as footage in the replay shows).  Not even several seconds after it had occurred.  Rules do allow linesmen to make calls for 5 minute majors.  That may have been the case here.

Even then, the call can still be viewed as questionable.  The puck was in Havlat’s skates, and the hit was not from behind.  There was also no elbow, and Kronwall did not jump prior to making contact.  Some can argue that when taking into consideration how hard the hit looked and the damage it inflicted to Havlat, it is tough for the ref not to call something.  However, the 5 minute major call remains questionable.  Do legal hits become illegal when they injure someone?  How hard are you allowed to hit someone?

Detroit would end up killing off the major, but an early third period goal for the Blackhawks would put them up 3-0.  All of a sudden some may have been wondering if the Pavel Datsyuk injury is that much of a factor.  The Wings answered that with three goals in the final 5:42 of the second to even the score at 3-3.  With little offensive production in the third from both teams, overtime would be required for the second consecutive game.

Chicago was determined to avoid a similar fate as they received in game 2, and just 1:52 in they succeeded after Patrick Sharp snapped home a rebound into an empty net.  With the win, the Blackhawks can once again see the light.  It is unsure if either team will have to play without their leading scorer as the status of Havlat and Datsyuk remain up in the air.  Chicago will have to be ready for either situation if they hope to make that light a little brighter Sunday afternoon at the United Center.

Tags: Chicago Blackhawks, detroit red wings, hit, hockey, Martin Havlat, NHL, Niklas Kronwall,