The shift before Dustin Penner scored to advance the Los Angeles Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals, there was a very controversial hit by Dustin Brown on Michal Rozsival.
Rozsival received a drop pass and brought the puck in offside. About a second later, Brown hit Rozsival and appeared to hit him knee-to-knee. Rozsival went down immediately and was down for the count—it was fairly evident that he couldn't put any weight on his left leg.
So the question has to be asked, was the hit dirty?
Here's my breakdown. While Brown is on the back check, he was anticipating the drop pass the entire time. As the third guy back, you are always looking for that drop pass and to lay the smack down on the recipient of the pass.
My opinion is that Brown was not expecting such a cut back by Rozsival, which is what caused him to hit him knee-to-knee. Had Rozsival not gone offside, Brown's hit would have been completely clean and he would have hit him square with his shoulder.
He definitely didn't have enough time to stop or get fully out of the way—the contact was going to happen either way.
Was the hit illegal? I believe that it was. You never want to see a guy get hit knee-to-knee because it leads to injury more often than not. But like I mentioned before, Brown was anticipating Rozsival to bring the puck in onside and hit him clean with the shoulder.
Brown is a very aggressive player and loves to be physical, and a huge hit at that point in the game would have been a huge momentum boost, even though the Kings appeared to already be controlling the play in the overtime frame.
Do I believe the hit was dirty? I honestly do not. I personally define a dirty hit as a hit where the intent was to injure the opposing player, and judging by the replay, I don't believe this was the case.
Unfortunate plays like that happen, and that's what it was—unfortunate. It's something that you never want to see—especially to a guy who has been as critical to the Coyotes as Rozsival has been throughout the playoffs. With the exception of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, I believe that Rozsival had been the biggest impact on the blue line for Phoenix.
One thing is for sure, considering Dustin Penner scored the series-clinching goal on the next shift, it definitely didn't make Rozsival's knee feel any better.
What do you guys think? Dirty or not?