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Senators' Neil unlikely to be punished for hit on Rangers' Boyle

Ottawa Senators' Chris Neil (25) checks New York Rangers' Brian Boyle during the third period of Game 5 of an NHL Stanley Cup first-round hockey playoff series, Saturday, April 21, 2012, at New York's Madison Square Garden. The Senators won 2-0 to lead the series 3-2. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Bill Kostroun

There was no penalty on the play, and it now appears there will be no review or suspension either.

According to several reports, Ottawa Senators forward Chris Neil is off the hook in connection with a check that has apparently left the New York Rangers' Brian Boyle with a concussion.

The fact Neil won't face supplementary discipline for a high third period hit on Boyle - and will be available for Monday's crucial elimination game - isn't going to be popular in the Big Apple.

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Rangers coach John Tortorella lambasted Neil for crunching into the Rangers' leading playoff goal scorer in the third period of a 2-0 loss on Saturday, calling it a "dangerous, dangerous, cheap hit" and arguing "it's the exact same thing" as Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres' headshot on Chicago's Marian Hossa last week.

"He launches himself, headshot, the puck's at the goal line when he's hit. So the blueprint is there and I'm sure he's a repeat offender. Not too much research to be done there," Tortorella after the game.

Actually, he's not a repeat offender, and it turns out that maybe there was some research to be done.

Though Neil arrived after Boyle had released the puck, replays showed that unlike Torres he didn't leave his feet, it's also tricky to definitively conclude from the replays that the head was the initial and principal point of contact.

While the play bore similarities to the check that Montreal's Max Pacioretty leveled on Pittsburgh's Kristopher Letang earlier this season (Pacioretty was suspended for three games), evidently the league has decided the plays weren't similar enough.

Neil said that in view it was a legal hit.

"He cuts to the middle with his head down. I'm putting back pressure and trying to bust back and get in good position. I'm a physical player out there, I think it's a clean hit. He was slow getting up, but I think I probably just knocked the wind out of him. He's a big man so I think it takes a lot out of me delivering those hits," Neil said after the game.

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The fact Neil, who has been one of Ottawa's most effective players in the series, won't face further sanction merely adds spice to a series that has had its ornery moments.

At least two of them have involved Boyle - in game one, the hulking centre roughed up the much smaller Erik Karlsson, and the next night he fell under a hail of punches from Ottawa enforcer Matt Carkner (who was suspended for a game).



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About the Author
National Correspondent

Sean Gordon joined the Globe's Quebec bureau in 2008 and covers the Canadiens, Alouettes and Impact, as well as Quebec's contingent of Olympic athletes. More

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