Rangers captain says Game 3 elbowing penalty not ‘anything crazy’

NHL: New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There was no shortage of action in an exciting Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final between the New York Rangers and the Florida Panthers. One play, however, that’s drawn plenty of attention from the NHL media and beyond is Jacob Trouba’s elbowing penalty against Florida center Evan Rodrigues.

Towards the end of the second period, with the Rangers leading 3-2, Rodrigues cut from the right circle to the slot. Trouba, attempting to make an adjustment, lunged forward and struck the shoulder and side of the head of Rodrigues. Rodrigues stayed down on the ice in clear pain, and Trouba, after a lengthy review, was assessed a double minor for elbowing Rodrigues and a slashing penalty on Carter Verhaeghe.

Yesterday, NHL Player Safety announced that the Rangers captain had been fined $5,000, the maximum allowed under the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“Any time they review it, you don’t really know what’s going to happen,” Trouba told Vince Mercogliano of USA Today Sports. “I didn’t think it was anything crazy.”

Panthers coach Paul Maurice has declined to disclose his opinion of the hit and the referee’s decision, opting instead for a quick quip about the fine.

“Take the hat, pass it around. Poor lad. Poor Jake. He won’t be able to eat,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice joked on Monday.

Trouba has developed a reputation as a physical player and one of the hardest hitters in the league. He’s also no stranger to controversy.

Earlier this season, Trouba was suspended two games for catching Vegas Golden Knights winger Pavel Dorofeyev in the head with an elbow.

He was also fined $5,000 this year for high-sticking Boston Bruins center Trent Frederic after the whistle.

Related: Refs need to stop taking Panthers bait

Jacob Trouba elbow sparks fiery debates

NHL: New York Rangers at Buffalo Sabres
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Trouba finds himself in the midst of a fiery debate once more, with fans and media alike clashing over whether it should have been a major penalty, or even possibly warranted a suspension.

“You have your arm extended like that, the elbow — it’s out from the start. I mean, where is this a hockey play?” PK Subban of the ESPN broadcast panel asked during the second intermission. “It’s a straight elbow to the chin. It’s a major for me, it’s not a hockey play.”

Meanwhile, Paul Bissonnette and Anson Carter of the TNT panel both landed in support of the decision to call it a minor penalty.

Trouba gave his perspective of the sequence yesterday during the Rangers’ off-day.

“He kind of went to the middle. It all happens pretty fast. It’s not something you’re thinking about 1,000 times over and over again. It just happens fast. It’s hockey. I don’t have a great explanation for it.”

Asked if he thought Rodrigues had embellished the hit, Trouba declined to comment.

The Rangers killed all four minutes of Trouba’s double minor and would take a 4-2 lead less than a minute after the penalty as Barclay Goodrow sniped the right corner on a one-timer feed from Vincent Trocheck. It’s their fifth shorthanded goal of the postseason. However, Trouba emphasized they need to be more disciplined moving forward.

“We have to play physical, but we definitely don’t want to be taking six penalties,” Trouba told Mercogliano. “They’ve got a good power play. Discipline is definitely something we’re going to have to be better at — I’m going to have to be better at. We have to play physical, but we definitely don’t want to be taking six penalties. They’ve got a good power play — but we definitely want to play a hard, physical game. That’s part of what makes our team good.”

Striking that balance could be key as the Rangers look to return from Florida with a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Coach Peter Laviolette’s decision to reinsert Matt Rempe into the lineup points to a shift in playstyle, opting for a more physical brand of hockey against a very heavy Florida Panthers unit.

However, as Trouba said, that physicality most come with better discipline. The Rangers have taken 13 penalties in their three games against Florida, resulting in 11 Panthers power plays. Florida’s scored three goals on the man-advantage, including two in Game 3.

The physicality and the post-whistle scrums have ramped up with each game of this Eastern Conference Final series. It will be curious to see if there’s any carryover from Trouba’s hit as the Panthers defend home ice in Game 4 tonight at 8 p.m.

Lou Orlando has spent the past two seasons as a New York Rangers beat reporter for WFUV Sports. The... More about Lou Orlando

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