The Avalanche just destroyed the Vegas Golden Knights tonight, in one of the best-played games I’ve ever seen them play. They have already established that they have a lot more high-end skill than the VGK, but this could have been a truly ugly night in what had shades of the Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore 2004 scandal in Vancouver.
Ryan Reaves should be nowhere near an active hockey playing surface for the next several days, after a blatant attempt to seriously injure Avs defenseman Ryan Graves in the third period of Colorado’s 7-1 Game 1 win at Ball Arena.
Reaves hog-tied Graves to the ice, sucker-punched him a couple times while down then put the entire weight of his body behind a knee to Graves’ head. Graves appeared unconscious for a few seconds, not moving at all, facedown on the ice.
Honestly, it was bordering on assault and if the NHL Department of Player Safety doesn’t give Reaves a suspension for it, the department will prove itself to having one set of standards for some player on-ice conduct, and another for others.
Reaves somehow is the NHL’s favored son though, or so it seems. Reaves put Ryan Suter’s head into the goalpost in Game 7 for Vegas Friday night, shoving him from behind, but skated away with only a two-minute penalty from the league.
The Avs played like a symphony orchestra in the game, almost a perfect game in my book. We knew Vegas would try to hit the Avs hard, but slamming guys to the ice and then trying to crush his head with his full body weight – and Reaves is a very big guy. It was a gutless play by Reaves, but as one of the league’s last pure enforcers, this is the kind of game he plays. He doesn’t appear to care, either.
Reaves just casually skated to the dressing room after getting a five-minute major penalty for intent to injure. Ho hum, just another night at the office for the unskilled Reavo.
The league just gave Nazem Kadri eight games for, admittedly, a terrible hit on St. Louis’ Justin Faulk. But this was worse. Kadri’s hit came in a split second against a guy coming down the middle. This was a guy intentionally trying to crush Graves’ head.
Graves returned to the game, so that was great news. But concussion symptoms can come into the night after a thing like that.
“I’m assuming the league will take a look at that,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said.
Well, who knows? Does anybody know what the standards are anymore with the NHL DoPS?
“Reaves is on a mission to hurt someone in the third. That’s what he goes out and does. I’m sure the league will take a look at it. It was intent to injure,” said Gabe Landeskog on Zoom afterward.
Bingo. The Avs lost D-man Sam Girard to a shoulder to the head by Max Pacioretty. Fortunately, Girard returned too. Unless the league hands Vegas some overdue suspensions, the league’s double standard for its golden child franchise will continue.