Hit on Jonathan Toews much ado about nothing

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews took a hard hit from Bruins defenceman Johnny Boychuk during Game...

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews took a hard hit from Bruins defenceman Johnny Boychuk during Game 5 in Chicago on Saturday, June 22, 2013. His status for Game 6 Monday in Boston is unknown. (John Gress/Reuters)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:45 PM ET

BOSTON - This is a Stanley Cup final that has lacked for much in the way of controversy, so the hit by Boston Bruins defenceman Johnny Boychuk on Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews in Game 5 is probably getting more attention that it deserves.

There's no question the hit is significant for the potential impact it could have on the series, which Toews' 'Hawks can end with a victory here in Game 6 Monday night.

Toews was confined to the bench for the third period after Boychuk caught him in the slot with a hard hit in the second period. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville was optimistic Toews would be able to play Monday night which is a wonderful development for the 'Hawks. Since Toews was reunited in Game 4 with winger Patrick Kane and big winger Bryan Bickell on the left wing, they have been ripping through the Bruins defence.

Kane has scored three goals in the last two games, both Chicago victories.

The Boychuk hit was at least the third significant collision in which Toews was involved in Game 5. Earlier in the game, 6-foot-9 Boston defenceman Zdeno Chara hit Toews in the right wing corner and Bruins defenceman Dennis Seidenberg smashed Toews into the boards in the left wing corner.

Toews cut in from the right wing circle and moved across the slot only to be nailed face-to-face by Boychuk.

There was no penalty on the play, though when Toews picked himself up and headed for the Chicago bench, he had words for one of the referees.

So the hit could be significant if it contributes to Toews not being able to play or reduces his effectiveness.

But its legality?

Twitter and several dispatches from the game immediately filled up with adjectives like "suspendable" and "vicious."

Was the hit mean?

No, it was hard.

Was it high?

It was, but not too high.

Hard as it is to believe, it is still possible to hit somebody in the NHL and have it be a legal hit. Rare, I know, but still possible.

The three key elements which exonerate Boychuk on the hit are:

1. Boychuk hit Toews with his arms tucked in front of Boychuk's body. He didn't stick out an elbow and he didn't raise his arm like a forearm shiver. His arms only came up after the hit was made.

2. Boychuk's feet were on the ice. He didn't jump into Toews. Again, his skates only left the ice after contact had been made and they were falling to the ice.

3. Boychuk didn't target Toews' head. Boychuk's glove hit Toews on the left shoulder first and as Toews started to crumble, his hand slid up Toew's shoulder.

The 'Hawks were only willing to hint at the legality of the hit.

"There wasn't a penalty on the play and it was one of those hits in a tight area in front of the net," said Chicago coach Joel Quenneville. "You can be vulnerable in that area, a big hit. The first part of the contact you could talk about, but I'm not going to go there."

"It seemed to get messed up against Boychuk quite a bit in this series. He's taken some runs at me," said Chicago forward Patrick Sharp. "I can't really complain how he's hit me. He plays the game hard. He's pretty honest. I think every series we've been a part of things get a little bit more intense as they go along, a lot more trash talking, physical play on both sides.

"As far as the hit on Johnny, there's on-ice officials, there's people watching in the stands and the NHL is reviewing all those hits, so I'll let them make their decision."

In this case, there was no further action taken against Boychuk because none was justified.

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