One side thought it was dirty, the other thought it was nothing of the sort. The Detroit Red Wings
and Anaheim Ducks
may be only one game into this Western Conference semifinal, but the juices are unquestionably flowing.
Several Wings were irate after their dramatic 3-2 victory due to Mike Brown's thunderous center-ice hit on Jiri Hudler, which caused a gash under the latter's left eye with 8:31 remaining in the first period. The hit, which left Hudler cut and bloodied, earned Brown a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct.
"I didn't see him coming," Hudler said. "It happened really quick. I didn't have the puck for at least two seconds. It was kind of late, but there's nothing I can do right now. Obviously, it's a hit on the head. I don't want to be out of line, but I hope (the League) will get a look at it and do the right thing."
Not surprisingly, Brown doesn't feel he deserves a suspension.
"It's the playoffs, I want to play," he said. "I want to help the team. I don't know if it's necessary to get that suspension. It was just a clean hit. I wasn't meaning to do any harm or anything. I was just playing physical. He got cut from his visor."
Hudler was able to return for the start of the second period after receiving several stitches, but Brown was gone for the rest of the night and the Wings got a five-minute power play -- much to the dismay of Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle.
"I'm sure they're going to say it was dirty, but this is a game that's played and physical contact is allowed," Carlyle said. "We timed the hit. From the time he passed the puck until Mike Brown made contact with him, there wasn't a second that went off the clock. It was at 8:36, and the clock did not move by the time he made contact. He didn't hit him with his elbow, he hit him with his shoulder. Hudler was admiring his pass.
"They can talk all they want about a dirty hit. That's not a dirty hit in hockey. You're allowed to take the body in this game."
On the ensuing power play, Johan Franzen scored by driving to the net and poking it past Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, who fell to the ice as the two collided after the puck was in the net.
Carlyle was less than pleased about seeing his goaltender get run over.
"It's amazing, isn't it?" he said. "We're supposed to be protecting the goalie. The guy puts the puck in the net and runs the goalie over. That's the way it goes. The video doesn't lie.
"I don't think he charged the guy," Carlyle added about Brown's hit. "That's one of things when you hit somebody too hard in today's game, obviously they felt that it was too vicious. I don't know."
Some of Hudler's teammates, however, felt differently.
"Obviously, that was a dirty hit," Wings forward Dan Cleary said. "It's something you don't want in hockey. We've been preaching this all season long, yet it continues to happen."
Henrik Zetterberg agreed.
"It was a dirty hit," Zetterberg said. "I think he should have respect for players. It was obviously to the head. That doesn't belong here."
Whether Brown's fate for Game 2 will be decided by Sunday is uncertain. If it isn't, there's no reason why the 23-year-old wouldn't be in the lineup, which could make for a very interesting afternoon at The Joe.
"I don't think it was dirty at all," Brown said. "He had his head down and I lead in with my shoulder. I don't know what would be so dirty. He had just gotten rid of the puck. It wasn't late or anything."
Contact Brian Compton at: email@example.com.