At just over 13 minutes into the second period, New York Rangers forward Artem Anisimov scored a beautiful goal off some tic-tac-toe passes shorthanded to give his team a 2-1 lead against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but then, he skated to the top of the circle, turned around, and made a shotgun motion with his stick, aimed towards the net. This celebration, which is called a “sniping”, went on to cause an absolute frenzy as Lightning players proceeded to attack him. This will no doubt be the center of conversation in the NHL for the next few days, and so it deserves additional attention on here.
Though the goal was pretty, as a Rangers fan, I do believe that the celebration was a little over the top. Call it showmanship or whatever you like, for a player who only had four goals on the season at that point, it was a little macho. Back in the old days, had a player did that, he would have been jumped in the same manner. However, the penalties that ensued were ridiculous. Sure, the move was classless, but Anisimov was give a two-minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Excuse me? Haven’t players done much worse than this after a goal? What about a few seasons ago, when Alex Ovechkin scored and threw his stick to the ice , pretending it was too hot to handle (which, ironically, was also against Tampa Bay)? Was he given a penalty? No, of course not. If Sidney Crosby did the same thing, would there have been a penalty thrown his way? Come on, you know that answer to that question. There is a double standard in the league for what is right and what is wrong. If a star does that, its fine; if its a lower tier player, then, my goodness, what a taboo!
Anisimov deserved to get some punches, but not 16 minutes in penalties, that included four for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct. Had this happened in the old days, a player would have spent the next 16 minutes looking for his teeth on the ice, not sitting in the penalty box. Let me also mention the eagerness of the Lightning players to jump in—they had a right to be angry, but the pile-on was a little much. This is hockey, after all; some maturity growth is in order for both sides here.
Also, the NHL will certainly look to see if Steve Downie actually completed his line change, because he was seen coming off the bench to join the scrum. The only question is whether or not he was just sitting there, or if he had actually made it all the way over the boards, which would constitute a change, and him illegally leaving the bench, which is an automatic one-game suspension. All in all, 38 penalty minutes were handed out as a result of the play, and the Rangers ended up shorthanded, even though they were the team that had, essentially, a player mugged.
This is not a case of the celebration being right or wrong, it is a case of penalties being fair or unfair. Perhaps if Anisimov aimed his “gun” at center ice instead of at the net, where Vinny Lecavalier happened to be skating, and saw the sticked pointed in his direction, this melee would have not ensued, but it did, and this is where we stand. Other than possibly Downie, I do not expect any further disciplinary action taken on the play, because if anything additional happens to Anisimov as a result (such as the echoes of a politically correct world thinking the celebration was a threat of gun violence to an opposing player), than the officiating in the league is even more messed up than we could have ever imaged.
This is obviously one that the Rangers let slip away. Yes, they got a point out of it, but they should have had two. During these last two winning streaks, the team has been trying to prove they are legitimate. Well, legitimate teams do not let a win slip away with under two minutes to go, up by a goal, and on the powerplay. Legitimate teams do not let a career 4th liner march down the ice and lift a softee over the shoulder of their all-star goaltender. This really stings right now, and deservedly so. All the excitement and intensity they showed in overtime would have won them the game if they showed it during one of their many third period powerplays. Not to mention how dumb they look losing after a celebration like that.