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Avalanche player lays hit of the year contender on Jets’ Mark Scheifele

Nikita Zadorov’s hit certainly toed the line.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov had himself a game on Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets, but whether his biggest play crossed the line probably depends on which team you root for.

Zadorov was all over the ice in Denver, well on his way to 27 minutes and more than 24 shifts by the mid-third period. Colorado had 16 hits by that point, and it’s fair to say most of them came from Zadorov. He was a tone-setter.

But Winnipeg felt he finally crossed a line when he laid a massive hit on center Mark Scheifele as he tried to exit his own zone.

Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba immediately jumped on Zadorov and tried to deliver justice while Scheifele tried to gather himself. He kept playing, although he was seen stretching his neck on the bench.

Zadorov was assessed a two minute minor for charging, and both he and Trouba got five minutes for fighting.

If you’re wondering why Zadorov wasn’t tossed from the game, here’s your answer:

Zadorov somehow managed to avoid direct contact with Scheifele’s head. More specifically, Zadorov didn’t aim at the head at all. You can see him squaring up to hit the body; the angle and height of both players kind of negated that, though.

So we end up with the hit of the season, unless we can’t count hits that earned penalties. And if the Department of Player Safety does find reason to discipline Zadorov, or if Scheifele does miss some time, Zadorov shall be stripped of his title.

But for now, we have a hockey rarity: an excellent hit that left nobody seriously injured. For now.

Zadorov was asked by The Denver Post after the game about the hit and had some interesting things to say about Trouba jumping him. Here’s his take on the hit:

Zadorov said of the hit itself: “I saw him with his head down and I just tried to put on the brakes and tried to step up. I think I caught him cleanly. Good thing he didn’t get injured. I don’t want to see him injured, but it’s a hockey play.”

While confirming that Scheifele was okay after the game, Jets coach Paul Maurice said that he wasn’t convinced the hit was legal.