You have to give Brendan Shanahan credit for one thing; he is consistent – consistently bad – but consistent nonetheless. Once again the NHL’s Director of Player Safety (and Chief Clerk and Bottlewasher) dropped a one-game suspension on Claude Giroux for his hit on New Jersey’s Dainius Zubrus.

In announcing the suspension, Shanahan referred to Giroux’s “late, reckless hit to the head”. Kind of like the one that Alexander Ovechkin delivered to Dan Girardi in Game 4 on Saturday. If you are trying to figure out what the difference was between the two hits, well, let’s just say that is the question at hand.

The funniest thing that has come out of the Ovechkin-Girardi play is how, all of a sudden, people are bringing up Girardi’s hit on Matt Hendricks. If you are trying to recall that hit, don’t fret if you can’t because no one ever gave it a second thought until the NHL needed a distraction to duck, dodge and deny an Ovechkin suspension.

In one way you have to feel bad for Giroux. The Flyers forward has put together a remarkable playoff run, but he has not reached the true rarified air of “superstar”. If he had, Giroux might have skated on a suspension like Ovechkin did and just like Shea Weber did.

As his custom, Shanahan explained his decision to suspend Giroux on the NHL’s official web site.

“This is a violation of the illegal check to the head rule which states: ‘A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head, where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact, is not permitted,” Shanahan reasoned.

I am sure Shanny would be quick to refer to that statement if you asked him about Carl Hagelin’s three-game suspension for his hit on Daniel Alfredsson.

However, how does Shanahan then let Ovechkin off without even a disciplinary hearing?

Oh yeah, that is right, Girardi was not hurt despite the fact that Ovechkin left his feet to deliver the head shot – the exact same action that caused Ovie to be suspended for three games in January. Yes, that is the same suspension that caused Ovechkin to pull out of the 2012 All-Star Game.

So we have a repeat offender in Ovechkin and there isn’t a paltry $2,500 fine. Chris Neil injured Brian Boyle with a head shot and he doesn’t warrant a disciplinary hearing or a slap-on-the-wrist fine.

If your head is spinning trying to figure out Shanahan’s actions, join the club.

Perhaps the NHL needs to do to Shanahan what they did with Colin Campbell once his son Gregory reached the NHL. Perhaps Shanahan should not be allowed to rule on any disciplinary actions involving one of his former teams. Therefore, someone else involved in the NHL’s executive offices would rule on any actions by a member of the Devils, Blues, Hurricanes (Whalers), and Rangers.

I know that is a bit harsh and doesn’t put Shanahan in the best light, but let’s face facts. I could understand and rationalize Shanahan’s decisions if it were only one or two “disciplinary actions” that went against the Rangers. However, when you reach three such decisions then something is rotten in Denmark and it ain’t the Limburger cheese.

You really have to wonder what an opponent would have to do to a Ranger in order to receive a suspension. I guess anything short of decapitation goes – and I am not too sure that Shanny would classify a Ranger decapitation as a “long-term injury”.

Enough about Shanahan because there is no way the Rangers are ever going to win this battle. You can’t fight City Hall and you can’t fight the National Hockley League.

Let’s take a quick minute to focus on Game 5 tonight at Madison Square Garden. The last thing the Rangers want to face is a repeat of the Ottawa series where they have to go on the road in Game 6 just to force a seventh and deciding game. This would be a good time for the Rangers to take the easy road for a change.

They key to that easy road will be scoring the first goal. The Washington Capitals are 6-1 when they score the first goal during the playoffs and 0-4 when they don’t.

Conversely, the Rangers are 6-2 when they score first and 0-3 when they don’t.

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