Panthers coach delivers quip about Jacob Trouba elbow penalty in Rangers Game 3 win

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Florida Panthers at New York Rangers
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Maurice is right. The Florida Panthers coach has more to worry about right now than whether Jacob Trouba deserved a major penalty for elbowing against Evan Rodrigues in the second period of the New York Rangers’ 5-4 overtime win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final on Sunday.

The Rangers have won consecutive games in overtime and now lead this best-of-7 series 2-1. They could move within one win of their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 10 years with a victory in Game 4 on Tuesday in South Florida.

But instead of answering a direct question about whether he believed Trouba deserved a major penalty when he lunged toward Rodrigues and made contact with the forward’s head, Maurice delivered sort of a self-deprecating quip.

“I think I’ve got enough on my plate. I’m not going to do any refereeing or player safety tonight. I’ll just stick with the coaching,” said Maurice, who coached Trouba previously in Winnipeg with the Jets.

The play in question occurred at 17:35 of the second period, with the Rangers having just taken a 3-2 lead on Alexis Lafreniere’s second goal of the afternoon. On a delayed penalty — Trouba was already going to be penalized for slashing — Rodrigues cut to the net with the puck and the Rangers captain lunged toward him, leading with his right arm, making contact in the head area.

The play was reviewed and Trouba was assessed a minor for elbowing and the original minor for slashing. The Rangers not only killed off all four minutes, but Barclay Goodrow scored shorthanded at 18:14 to give New York a 4-2 lead.

Rodrigues remained down on the ice for several minutes after the hit and then headed to the locker room. But he did return to play in the third period and overtime.

Trouba also took a penalty in the third period at 14:23 after the Panthers had roared back to tie the game. Again, led by Igor Shesterkin, the Rangers bailed out Trouba with a huge kill. And then they went on to win Game 3 on Alex Wennberg’s goal at 5:35 of overtime.

It was an active afternoon for Trouba, who had two assists and nine blocked shots to go along with the six penalty minutes.

Related: Kaapo Kakko returns, takes injured Jimmy Vesey’s spot in Game 3

Debate over whether Rangers captain deserved major penalty against Panthers

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Trouba has been down this road before throughout his career, where there’s controversy and debate over an elbow or hit that he’s delivered on the ice. Just this season, Trouba was suspended two games in January for elbowing Vegas Golden Knights forward Pavel Dorofeyev.

Even the Sportsnet studio crew was split on whether Trouba deserved a major penalty instead of a minor.

“He’s not trying to elbow him,” former NHL defenseman Kevin Bieksa explained. “He’s trying to hit his body with the forearm and i think he grazed his shoulder because Rodrigues is hunched over. … I’m OK with two (minutes).”

When the replay was shown again on Sportsnet, Jennifer Botterill exclaimed, “Oh! That’s jaw then shoulder.”

“To me, I was surprised it was only a two-minute minor,” Botterill explained. “To me, the initial contact is made to the side of his jaw, the side of his head before he makes contact with his shoulder. It is so clear there is the intent. He … extends the elbow and make contact with the head first.”

There’s been no indication that NHL Department of Players Safety will have a hearing with Trouba over the incident. But it is certain they have and will review this play at length.

Just don’t ask Paul Maurice for his opinion.

Stay tuned.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

Mentioned in this article:

More About: