April 1, 2011 5:30 pm

Handzus escapes injury; Clifford stays on ice too

Kyle Clifford’s punishment, for his hit on Vancouver’s Christopher Tanev last night, was limited to the five-minute checking-from-behind major and game-misconduct penalties he received from the on-ice officials. The NHL did not issue any supplemental discipline today, and after practice today, Terry Murray said he was not concerned that Clifford would be suspended for the hit…

MURRAY: “No, I wasn’t. I was more concerned with (MIchal) Handzus, quite honestly, after the game because of the hit that he took, that something might be out of place today. With Clifford, no. I look at that — and even on the bench, that’s my conversation with the referee, after the penalty is called — and that puck is chipped in from the blue line and the defenseman [Tanev] going back to recover the puck had awareness of Clifford from above the top of the circle. They had eye contact. They looked at each other. Now you have a player who gets to the puck first who looks, to me, like he’s going to go to the back of the net, then he makes that move back to the strong side. As soon as you do that, you’re opening up an invitation for contact. In saying that, we all know there’s awareness now, that the responsibility lies on the forechecker now, and in today’s environment you have to be very careful.”

As Murray noted, one of the scary moments in last night’s game came when Michal Handzus got upended by Vancouver’s Aaron Rome and crashed hard into the end boards. Knowing how Handzus is built, the boards were fortunate to avoid damage… Handzus stayed down for a few moments, but then got up, skated off the ice and returned to the game after a short absence. After practice today, Handzus talked about the hit and his good fortune to avoid serious injury…

HANDZUS: “I was trying to get to the puck but I didn’t see the other guy (Rome) coming. I jumped around the one guy and I didn’t see the other guy coming. … At first, you know you’re going to hit the boards, and it was kind of like slow motion for me. I got a little bit of the wind knocked out of me, but I just tried to catch my breath and then I was OK.”

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