Once again we're talking about Taylor Hall and it isn't about his historic goal scoring.
For nearly 58 minutes tonight the story of tonight's Minnesota Wild game was Matt Cullen stepping up in a way he hadn't this season. The Moorhead native scored two goals and assisted on Devin Setoguchi's third goal of the season to put the team ahead 3-1 after trailing 1-0 in the second.
Unfortunately, Cullen's performance was overshadowed in the final two minutes by a center ice hit by Hall on Cal Clutterbuck. The Oilers forward and 2010 number one pick went into Clutterbuck with his knee into Clutterbuck's knee and left the Minnesota forward crumpled on the ice.
Hall was assessed a five minute major for kneeing while Clutterbuck was helped off the ice without putting weight on his leg.
(Oddly enough this isn't the first time Clutterbuck has been hit with a questionable knee-on-knee hit against Edmonton. Last season he was hit by Ryan Whitney on the knee and it saw Clutterbuck leave that game and miss more.)
At the very least it's a stupid play by Taylor going in away from the puck for the hit and sticking out his leg. At the most, well that's a call for Brendan Shanahan...and honestly I'd be shocked if he doesn't get one.
If that isn't enough, this isn't even the first time Hall has injured a Wild player. Earlier in the season, Hall broke Jonas Brodin's collarbone on a hit while the two were playing in the AHL. That play was eventually ruled a non-suspension as he didn't lead with an elbow or make contact to the head. Instead, it led to Brodin being out for three months and missing out on both AHL playing time during the Lockout and the 2013 World Junior Championships.
(s/t Felix Levasque @fel0096 for both videos)
At the very least, it was a bad decision by Hall being down by two goals. I wouldn't go as far as to call him a dirty player but when he keeps skirting the gray area of hits, it gets harder and harder to claim that these are accidents. And of course there is this:
Brodziak on Hall: "First thing I did was ask the refs if it was dirty. They said yes. We just hope (Clutterbuck's) all right."What do you think? Is the hit dirty or clean?
— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) February 22, 2013