(Photo: USA Today Sports)
The Department of Player Safety on Saturday issued forward Bollig, for a boarding infraction, that sent Ballard out of the game. Ballard (upper body) is not expected to play Game 5 Sunday.
In its video explanation of the ruling, the NHL department outlines Bollig’s pursuit of the hit and reluctance to minimize contact on Ballard as Ballard turns into the glass. The incident occurred at 17:13 of the second period. Ballard left the ice on his own power, but retreated to the locker room and did not return to the game.
Bollig served a two-minute minor boarding penalty in the game for the hit.
“Bollig is tracking from the blue line and continues on his path, seeing Ballard’s number the entire time. As Ballard backhands the puck, Bollig drives into him from behind, causing (Ballard) to violently impact the boards and glass,” said Patrick Burke, of the department of player safety in the video ruling.
“Bollig is in control of this check throughout the play,” Burke continued. “Ballard makes no significant movements just prior to or simultaneously with contact, to turn what otherwise would’ve been a legal check into a boarding infraction. Therefore the onus is entirely on Bollig to see if he avoids this check completely or, at the very least, attempts to minimize contact. He does neither.”
Because Bollig is a first-time offender, his punishment is two games.
This play was likely retaliatory, following a violent hipcheck from Ballard earlier in the game where Bollig was downed as the recipient.
Ballard has played two games in the playoffs, returning from a groin injury that kept him out of the lineup for the final 13 regular season games and the first nine of the playoffs. In his two postseason games, he has zero points.
Bollig, who was among the few Hawks who played all 82 regular seasons games, has played nine postseason games with no points, an average of 6:09 minutes of ice time per game and a total of 14 penalty minutes. He had no points in five outings during the 2012-2013 playoffs.
The Blackhawks have been outhit by the Wild 22-7 in Game 4, 22-8 in Game 3, 32-23 in Game 2, and 37-24 in Game 1.
He’s one of the Hawks’ few “enforcers,” and without feisty center Andrew Shaw (who was injured after a hit by Clayton Stoner in Game 1) for at least another game, it will be interesting to see how Chicago handles hits.
The most constructive response would be to focus on hitting an opponent where it really hurts–the scoreboard–an option that would have prevented Ballard’s injury and Bollig’s suspension in the first place.