Boston Bruins

Patric Hornqvist delivered a big hit to the head and face of Charlie McAvoy on Thursday, busting the rookie open in the process. He wasn’t penalized on the play. But should he face any further discipline for the hit?

The play occurred late in the first period of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ loss to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Thursday night. McAvoy was fishing a puck out of the defensive zone in a semi-bent-over position with his head slightly down, and Hornqvist charged in and barreled his shoulder directly into McAvoy’s face.

You can watch the video of the hit below, via Colin Beswick of Stanley Cup of Chowder:

Dirty Hit?

McAvoy’s head/face was obviously the main point of contact for Hornqvist’s shoulder. The question is whether the contact was avoidable.

Based on Rule 48.1 in the NHL rulebook, you can disregard the part about suddenly changing your position prior to getting hit, because there was none of that with McAvoy. Unfortunately for the Bruins, Hornqvist may have an argument that he was attempting to hit McAvoy through his body and didn’t extend himself in a way that would unnecessarily target the head. And at the same time, McAvoy is leaning over with his head down.

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McAvoy needs to keep his head up in a situation like that, and the hit really wasn’t particularly dirty as compared to others. Even Zdeno Chara seems to agree, based on his response to a question after the game about being fed up with the Penguins’ “dirty” play.

“It was not dirty; it was just a physical game,” said Chara. “Both teams are battling and there was a lot of checks and a lot of battles. Neither team wanted to back down. It was just one of those games, that it was just a matter of time. I’m very proud of our group, proud of our guys and the way we played. Obviously we got a good result. We got the two points.”

Fine Or Suspension Coming?

UPDATE: Joe Haggerty of NBC Sports Boston tweeted on Friday that there will be no supplemental discipline for the Hornqvist hit.

It would be a little surprising if Hornqvist ends up getting no discipline whatsoever for this hit. Especially considering he didn’t receive a penalty in real-time, and that the hit caused a pretty good cut on McAvoy’s nose.

Ultimately, if McAvoy’s posture was more upright, Hornqvist’s hit would’ve driven straight through his chest. That’ll be Hornqvist’s argument, anyway, if he hears from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. But if the league really is serious about legislating hits to the head out of the game, they’ll at least take a look at the play. Maybe hand him a fine. But this likely doesn’t rise to the level of suspension.

The best part? McAvoy got his revenge later in the game. With a perfectly clean and hard shoulder-to-chest hit.

— By Matt Dolloff,

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at