Last night, Miles Wood played an important role in the New Jersey Devils’ 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. He led the team with six shots on net and fired in a one-timer from the slot in the third period to put the team up 4-2 at the time. That goal stood as the eventual game winner. However, Wood did something pretty bad in the same game. Wood notably threw a reckless, unnecessary, and just plain stupid hit on Vladimir Namestnikov. Here’s a clip from Sportsnet of the play as it happened:
As you can see, Wood charged right at an unsuspecting Namestnikov, threw his whole body into the back of the player - drilling his body into his upper back, and left his feet in doing so. Wood was given a minor penalty for boarding, which is wholly appropriate this hit from behind. The NHL Department of Player Safety decided to give him even more: a two game suspension. Here is the video from the league:
I’m actually fine with this decision from the NHL. For the past few weeks, the Devils were victims of some dangerous plays by others. I and many others called for suspensions to be given. I cannot turn around and state that it’s unfair or it’s not right when a Devil does something similar. We cannot expect others to play by the rules while asking for leniency when the Devils do not. While I can understand the lack of consistency from the league regarding suspensions; I have to agree a suspension is warranted. Wood messed up and he, and by extension the team, will pay the price. Whether he has a history (he doesn’t) should not absolve him. My hope going forward is that Wood learns something from this experience and doesn’t decide to throw reckless checks like this again. It was stupid then and it remains stupid now in light of the league suspending him.
What will the Devils do tonight? Well, you won’t see so many leading passes to #44 streaking up the wing, for one. Wood being forced to sit undercuts the speed that the Devils used well against Carolina and other opponents. To me, that’s the main on-ice impact. In terms of the roster, the Devils may have enough forwards. Blake Pietila was called up prior to this game. I would have to think he’s definitely in just to make up the numbers. Jesper Bratt may be called upon to play up with Stefan Noesen and Travis Zajac, assuming that head coach John Hynes keeps the same line combinations. Brian Boyle was skating prior to Saturday’s game but was held out. Perhaps he’s ready to go tonight? Of course, Hynes could just run eleven forwards and seven defensemen if he has to do so.
Anyway, the decision has been given: Wood will be suspended for two games. What do you make of the news? Is the suspension too much, too little, or just right? Do you think Wood will learn anything from this? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about it in the comments. Thank you for reading.