Caps' Green being targeted by Rangers?

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:17 PM ET

Each time he steps on the ice for the Chicago Blackhawks, Brent Seabrook looks down to see that giant Indian head stitched on the front of his classic red-black-and-white jersey, one of the coolest logos in all of pro sports.

When Marc Staal arrives at the rink every day, he finds the traditional Broadway Blueshirts uniform dangling in his locker, the word RANGERS stitched diagonally from shoulder to waist.

And for Mike Green, seeing the letters that spell out CAPITALS on his red-white-and-blue Washington sweater serves as a reminder of the city he represents.

Three different players. Three different teams. Three different on-ice wardrobes.

Yet, look past their fashion statements and you can see that Seabrook, Staal and Green share a couple of things in common.

All three are defencemen.

And all three have large bulls-eyes on their chests.

It's no coincidence.

Less than a week into the Stanley Cup playoffs, it has become evident that top-end blueliners have become marked men, targeted by opponents.

That doesn't make it acceptable to cross the line and deliver dangerous blows to them, such as the Blackhawks feel Vancouver's Raffi Torres did to Seabrook and like the Caps accused Staal of doing to Green.

Both incidents took place in Game 3s of their respective first-round series Sunday, deep enough into the matchups that animosity has had an opportunity to boil between teams.

The Hawks, of course, were not happy to hear that Torres had wiggled his way out of any supplemental discipline from the league.

Interestingly, on the same day Colin Campbell was busy justifying the lack of punishment for Torres, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was urging NHL disciplinarians to review Staal's felling of Green late in the second period of the Rangers 3-2 victory at Madison Square Garden. Just seconds before Alex Ovechkin tied the game at 2-2, Green was skating into the high slot to pursue the puck when Boudreau felt he was blindsided by Staal.

"It was a dirty shot," Boudreau told reporters. "I hope the league looks at it.

"I'm listening to all the experts last night on Torres' hit on Seabrook and they're all saying there's no puck, it's not a hockey play, the guy's in a vulnerable position and he hits the head.

"That's exactly what we're trying to get out of the league and out of the game and Staal comes in. There's no puck, he takes his arm and swings it on his head but it's all forgotten because we scored a goal to tie the game up. But it shouldn't be forgotten and it's not the first time they've targeted Mike's head."

Green, who missed the final 20 games of the season with a concussion, eventually got back to his feet and returned for the third period.

"Mike's fine right now," Boudreau said. "They took a high hit -- they're coming after him. (Brandon) Prust left his feet in the first period and went at the head as well.

"I have no problem with hitting. Let's hit as hard as we can. That's what this game is all about. But you cannot target the head."

Agreed.

But you can target defencemen. And teams are doing it en masse.

With playoff hockey being tight affairs where any turnover can lead to that decisive goal, beating down those go-to guys at the back end who are relied upon to lug pucks up the ice has become a priority, especially now that defenceman are vulnerable to hard-charging forecheckers who no longer can be obstructed as they close in.

Don't take our word for it. Just listen to Rangers coach John Tortorella who, prior to Sunday's game, was asked if he thought the Capitals were targeting Staal.

"I'd do it, especially with the new rules," Tortorella said. "Defencemen are targets."

Targets that are being put in danger by some very questionable, if not illegal, hits.


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