WCF Game 4: Keith Ballard’s hit of the playoffs results in Jamie McGinn aerial cartwheel

By Jon Swenson - Last updated: Monday, May 23, 2011 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

Western Conference Finals defenseman Keith Ballard low hit on Sharks forward Jamie McGinn sends him on an aerial cartwheel

San Jose Sharks forward Jamie McGinn continued his one man human highlight reel in game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, this time on the opposite end of the physical play. After knocking Vancouver defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and Aaaron Rome out of the lineup with checks in game 3, McGinn joined Andrew Desjardins and Jamal Mayers for a gritty shift after the end of the Sharks 5th unsuccessful power play in the second period. Desjardins lined up defensive replacement Chris Tanev along the end boards, then Jamie McGinn beat Tanner Glass to pressure Keith Ballard on the forecheck. Unlike Rome a game earlier, a heads up Ballard saw McGinn coming with a head of steam and dove down low to take out his legs. The collision resulted in a clean aerial 360 by McGinn, who narrowly avoided landing on his head.

McGinn hopped right back on his feet and returned to the play. With the Canucks standing on their bench, a Mayers backcheck created a turnover in the neutral zone and McGinn took a second hit by Ballard along the wall to get the puck deep. Jamal Mayers beat two players to the dump in, and dropped a back pass to McGinn. The young 22-year old narrowly slid a long backhand shot just wide of the net. The fourth line for San Jose was expected to play a minor contributing role in this series in favor of the three scoring lines, but for the second straight game they made a significant impact. It is one of the few positives the Sharks can point to after a disheartening 4-2 loss, and a 3-to-1 deficit in the series.

In a game with alternating parades to the penalty box, it is ironic that the clearest call of the night was not made. Referees Kelly Sutherland and Eric Furlatt were tight on Vancouver in the first period, and even the hard Torres check on Douglas Murray that sent him to the ice was within the bounds of the law. Keith Ballard’s hit on Jamie McGinn was not. Rule 44.1 in the NHL rulebook states “Clipping is the act of throwing the body, from any direction, across or below the knees of an opponent.” In Bryan Marchment-esque fashion (Marchment remains a development coach in the Sharks organization), Ballard dropped his entire body below the knees of McGinn to send him flying. “A player may not lower his body position to deliver a check to an opponent’s knees,” the rulebook states.

What was and was not legal was a clear mystery to the players on the ice, but according to San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan arguing the officiating on three subsequent 5-on-3′s was a moot point. “It’s hard to argue the too many men on the ice penalty. It’s hard to argue the shooting the puck out of the play,” McLellan said. “I can’t sit here and whine and bitch about the officiating, because it had absolutely nothing to do with it. It was the team in the white that created that mess.” The Vancouver Canucks scored an NHL playoff record three 5-on-3 power play goals in a 1:55 span. It was a sequence that determined the outcome of game 4, and could quite possibly determine the outcome of the series if the Sharks can not find a way to maintain playoff composure and discipline moving forward.

Jamie McGinn offered his thoughts via twitter on whether or not the Sharks can get back in the series. “I believe, we can get this done,” McGinn said.

[Update] Video: Keith Ballard’s hip check ranks as the hit of the 2011 playoffs – NBC’s Pro Hockey Talk.

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