The Chicago Blackhawks and the Vancouver Canucks have had their share of physical altercations in the recent past. Tuesday night in Chicago, the latest villain in the rivalry is forward Jannik Hansen, who may face league discipline following a forearm to the back of Marian Hossa's head.
Hossa had a pair of goals as the Blackhawks lost a two-goal lead but prevailed 4-3 in a shootout. Ordinarily, fans would all be talking about Hossa's big night and a surprising appearance in the shootout by Andrew Shaw, who roofed the game-winner.
Instead, we await the possibility of sanctions against Hansen. Make no mistake, there should be a suspension coming.
I'm not going to go as far as to say that Hansen delivered an premeditated shot to injure Hossa. There was a puck in the air on which both players could have been trying to get.
Did Hansen skate across the ice and line up Hossa with a forearm shiver? Certainly not. However, Hansen's arm does come in high and hard and makes obvious and illegal contact. Hansen seemed to initially reach for the puck, then brought up the elbow once it was apparent that Hossa was winning control.
It may have happened in the midst of a hockey play, but the hit was not part of such an action.
Hossa was taken to the locker room and did not return after giving his team a lead with two second period goals. Hansen was assessed a roughing minor for the hit as opposed to a major infraction, but the play should merit a look at the league offices.
Hansen is the latest antagonist in the back and forth between the 'Hawks and Canucks. Duncan Keith served a five-game suspension last spring after an elbow to Daniel Sedin. Hansen got away with a slash that took Dave Bolland out of Vancouver's 2-1 win earlier this month.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville thought Hossa was "OK" after the contest, but more will be known Wednesday. If Hossa misses any time, it may increase the likelihood of a suspension for Hansen.
Either way, Tuesday's incident is just the latest in what should continue to be a pretty physical rivalry between two Western Conference contenders.