Vancouver Canucks star Elias Pettersson is predictably growing frustrated with a number of cheap shots against him, and took particular offense after Boston Bruins defenceman Matt Grzelcyk levelled with him with a late hit into the boards during Tuesday’s game.
Pettersson drove traffic into the offensive zone and released the puck to a teammate during the first period. A few seconds after Pettersson dropped the puck back, Grzelcyk crushed him into the boards. Grzelcyk wasn’t penalized for the play and Pettersson couldn’t help but sound off on the hit.
Here is the play in question:
Elias Pettersson responds to the late hit from Matt Grzelcyk 🔊 pic.twitter.com/Jq01fRIPdx— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) February 5, 2020
"I was a little frustrated, I feel like it’s not a good play, it's a dirty play. The hit was 10 metres away from where I dropped the puck, and it was two, three seconds later after I dropped the puck,” Pettersson said Tuesday via Sportsnet 650.
Pettersson said he’s not trying to lobby the referees for calls despite growing incensed with a number of illegal plays levied against him.
“The refs already have a tough job. I'm not looking for calls. I don't want to have a reputation. I'm not embellishing or diving. I want to play hard hockey and play with respect. All I can control is playing my best hockey,” Pettersson said.
Canucks head coach Travis Green took a less diplomatic stance, however.
“I’m so frustrated with it. This guy is one of the best young players in the league. He gets hit and he’s totally defenceless … it’s two seconds after he lets go of the puck. I’ve watched it a couple times,” Green said of Pettersson, via Patrick Johnston of Postmedia.
“He feels like there’s no way he’s going to get hit like that. He’s in a vulnerable position. Those are hits that the league is trying to get out of the game, especially against top young guys, top players in the league, and I think that Petey’s shown he’s one of those guys.
“And it’s frustrating for me as a coach to see some of the abuse he takes, where (it) doesn’t get called and he works through this. He gets frustrated and they keep, I know he’s not the biggest guy, but that doesn’t mean you can take advantage of a player that’s not ready to be hit. It’s very late. That should have been a penalty all day long.”
Pettersson has quickly emerged as one of the NHL’s best forwards, posting 23 goals and 55 points through 54 games this season. As his profile continues to grow, perhaps the league will make a concerted effort to protect one of its brightest young talents.
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