It's tough to remember a year in which there have been as many questionable hits and dirty plays in the NHL playoffs than the present, and that continued on Wednesday night in Game 4 between the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings.
With the Canucks on the brink of elimination, Henrik Sedin delivered a nasty elbow to Dustin Brown that went undetected by the officials.
The elbow came after Brown had been jostling with Henrik's twin brother Daniel on the very same shift. With Brown down on one knee near the half wall, Henrik skated by and hit Brown with an unprovoked elbow to the face that seemed to turn into a backhand.
To add insult to injury, Vancouver was able to stave off elimination by winning the game 3-1 and sending the series back north of the border. The Sedin brothers aren't normally known for dirty play, but Henrik's elbow shows that the talented twins have been frustrated by the Kings in this series.
Daniel missed the first three games due to injury and Henrik struggled mightily without him. No two players have better on-ice chemistry than the Sedins, since they have been playing together for their entire lives, so Daniel's return seems to have reinvigorated Henrik and the Canucks as a whole.
Vancouver was dominated physically by the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals last season and made moves this year to make sure nothing like that happened again. Trades for young powerhouse Zack Kassian and grizzled playoff veteran Sami Pahlsson improved team toughness, but the Kings have still got the better of them in that department thus far.
Brown has been at the forefront of that as he routinely is among the league leaders in hits in addition to being a strong offensive player as well. Brown tends to get on the nerves of opposing players, so perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise that Sedin took the opportunity to hit him with a cheap shot when it presented itself.
While it certainly wasn't the cleanest play, perhaps Henrik's elbow turned the tide a bit in the Canucks' favor. It showed that not even Vancouver's finesse players are willing to back down and wilt this season and that Los Angeles' 3-0 (now 3-1) series lead is far from safe.
Compared to some of the other plays we have seen this postseason, Henrik's elbow on Brown was a love tap, but it was also a signal that the Canucks aren't afraid to engage in some of the rough stuff that they shied away from last season.