For a game with 82 official hits, Game 1 of the Western Conference final was a surprisingly tame affair -- until the final five minutes, that is. That's when Dave Bolland flattened and dazed Mike Richards, and Dustin Brown leveled Jonathan Toews.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter said three hours before game time that Richards was "fine," but the talented Kings center was a surprise scratch for Game 2, with what the team termed an "upper-body injury." Richards is the Kings' leading playoff scorer with two goals and eight assists.
The NHL didn't think Bolland's hit -- on which he appeared to leave his feet, and hit Richards in the chin with the back of his shoulder -- was egregious, and decided against any disciplinary action. No hearing was held. Sutter didn't complain about the lack of penalty or punishment for Bolland.
"It's not really an issue," Sutter said.
The hits by Bolland and Brown are the kind of nastiness that lingers and festers in a playoff series, and both teams expected to ratchet up the intensity in Game 2.
Toews shrugged off the big hit by Brown, which came in the last minute of Game 1 as the Hawks used a power play to simply run out the clock.
"I just think they were maybe a little frustrated that we were just moving the puck around on the outside with not even two minutes left to go in the game, just trying to kill time on the power play," Toews said. "Kind of expect him to do something like that. We just got to be aware of when they're going to try and be physical on us."
The key, as it always is, was to walk the line of physical and foolish.
"We want to make sure we're playing hard within the whistles," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Make sure we're smart, but bring it. ... We just want to make sure we're smart, and disciplined. Staying out of the box is a priority."