Michael Peca 2002 Playoffs: Torn ACL
Another dirty hit that Islanders fans have to remember during a surprisingly successful season in 2001-02. This season was a huge turnaround for the franchise after missing the playoffs every season since 1993-94, which can be attributed to many key additions such as first time head coach Peter Laviolette, Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Chris Osgood, even Alexei Yashin, and the great leadership of captain Michael Peca.
The Isles finished 5th in the Eastern Conference, which meant they had to face a strong Toronto Maple Leafs team in the first round. Darcy Tucker, one of the more infamous agitators in NHL lore, was one of the most aggressive players in the series, even threatening him and at one point trying to fight Peca early in the series, to which he refused. However, in game five Tucker took it too far, low-bridging Peca with a hip check and upending him after he had gotten rid of the puck, which ended up tearing his ACL. He did exactly what he said he would do, and faced zero discipline.
This low hit even inspired a rule change, making "clipping" a penalty when any part of a player's body is thrown below another player's knees to take them down. Notably, the Islanders also lost their best all-around defenseman Kenny Jonsson in the same game due to a hit from behind by Gary Roberts along the boards, giving him a concussion, and did not play the rest of the series. Toronto won game five, with Tucker also scoring a goal, and the series lasted until game seven which the Islanders ultimately lost. Another instance where fans have to wonder if they could have advanced with their best players healthy.