But particularly by the New York Islanders who cry foul on every level. The team is miffed that he hit Okposo; they also don’t like the fact he never dropped the gloves versus a career minor leaguer.

Let’s put the record straight. Phaneuf DID drop the gloves but the twirl lasted all of 2 seconds. Okposo did a hockey no no and that was coasting through the neutral zone with his head down.

It didn’t help that Dion was hitting from the side, and that OKPOSO looses his balance or was stretching for the puck, and at that moment gets smoked. If he was at normal height he would have taken a shoulder square in the chine. Instead he took an arm to the face.

You be the judge (picture after the jump):

Unlike what bloggers from NY are saying, Phaneuf didn’t stick up or put out his elbow. It was clearly stuck down and to his side. Your elbow can’t physically get any lower without cutting it off.

THERE IS NO LEADING WITH THE ELBOW. Take a look (the white on Okposo is the jersey on the shoulder, that’s not his helmet.

Okposo Phaneuf

Unless Okposo has no head or Phaneuf has a 5 foot forearm, Okposo’s head at point of impact hits shoulder/upperarm. Phaneuf is leading with his shoulder as anybody who’s played contact hockey can attest. It would have been a shoulder strike (probably to the head) and not contact lower.

Could Phaneuf had backed off? Sure. Is anybody taught to play at 75% during pre season games? No. Did Phaneuf skate half way across the ice to hit Okposo? Not really but he was a bit out of position. Is Phaneuf a bag for blowing somebody off the ice pre-season? Well we don’t pay him 6+ million to be nice.

Does it suck Okposo had to be carted off? Yes, he’s a good player and goof for a crappy but slowly improving NY Islanders. But again, was this leading with the elbow and an intent to injure? Heck no, but take another look.