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Adventures in Media Bias

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It's not unusual to have a game portrayed in two different ways by each team's respective media corps. A lopsided score will be reported in the winning city as a tremendous team game, highlighting the accomplishments of the victor; for the losers, it's often a point by point breakdown of how their team wasn't ready to play or failed to follow the system. Usually neither one is completely wrong, either.

Inherent but not blatant bias - such is the world of journalism. 

It's when it becomes blatant that we have an issue, and somehow the Philadelphia media has decided to cross that line and unite in the cause of, believe it or not, making Daniel Carcillo look like less of a moron. As the play stands, it comes across as a cheap-shot, an unprovoked sucker punch that comes before his opponent has even dropped his gloves or stick. Hard to defend, really, and hard to see why Carcillo would have taken exception to Matt Bradley, right?

Enter the phantom high stick.

The story being spread by our neighbors up a snowy I-95 today is that Matt Bradley high-sticked Carcillo - an infraction that was so obvious that it was missed by both referees (and the camera operators and commentators for both CSN Washington and CSN Philly). And it was so heinous that it set off Carcillo and rendered him unable to think clearly.

Here's how the hit is portrayed here in Washington, from the Washington Post:

With the score tied 1-1, Bradley finished his check on Carcillo along the sideboards. Carcillo took exception to the clean hit and delivered a cross-check to Bradley's back. By the time Bradley realized he was being engaged, Carcillo had dropped his gloves, cocked his fist and delivered a right jab to Bradley's jaw, dropping the winger to the ice.

And the Washington Times:

It was a 1-1 contest after goals from Fleischmann and Philadelphia's Mika Pyorala, but everything changed when Bradley hit Carcillo along the left boards near the Washington blue line. Carcillo took offense and cross-checked Bradley twice, trying to get him to fight. Carcillo threw off his gloves and, just as Bradley turned to engage him, the Flyers pugilist drilled Bradley with a right cross that sent him to the ice. Bradley had to be helped off the ice and did not return [...]

But here's how the Philadelphia media viewed it - first, the Philadelphia Inquirer (emphasis added):
About 2½ minutes after Mika Pyorala tied the game, 1-1, by knocking in a fat first-period rebound - a goal that ended the Flyers' eight-period scoreless drought - Carcillo was hit by Matt Bradley's high stick near the sideboards.

Carcillo retaliated with a cross-check and dropped his gloves. Just as Bradley dropped his gloves, Carcillo decked the Caps' right winger with a right to his face.

As Carcillo threw the punch, Bradley appeared to throw off his right glove as if he wanted to fight.

Auger gave Carcillo two minutes for cross-checking, two minutes for instigation, five minutes for fighting, a 10-minute misconduct, and a game misconduct.

Bradley got zero minutes.

Comcast's Philadelphia affiliate took it one step further in their recap:

Bradley got a high stick on Carcillo at the boards and that triggered the fight. Except referee Stephane Auger never saw it. Carcillo cross-checked Bradley and that led to shoves. Carcillo dropped his gloves, but grabbed onto Bradley, who dropped his right glove with his left glove still on.

Bradley swung his right hand around as Carcillo unloaded his right hand that caught Bradley flush in the face. Bradley’s left glove was still on his hand when he began to throw his right hand.

For what it's worth, the high stick gets no mention by Peter Laviolette. Or Scott Hartnell. Or Chris Pronger.

Or Carcillo himself (although he had plenty of other things to say).

And it gets no attention from Dan Rosen, playing the role of neutral observer with his recap of the game on

[T]he story of Saturday's game centers on Carcillo, who lost his cool 14:33 into the first period after getting hit cleanly by Matt Bradley near the penalty boxes.

Carcillo first cross-checked Bradley while he was on the ice, earning a two-minute minor penalty. He then instigated a fight with Bradley, good for another two minutes. Finally, before Bradley could get both gloves off, Carcillo cold-cocked him with a right hook to the face. That was good for a five-minute fighting major -- and on top of that he was issued a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct.

So was it a high stick? It's hard to find any justification for what Carcillo does next, but here's the video (from the CSN Philly feed, no less) be the judge: