Kings center Jarret Stoll felt the wrath of the NHL today as the league suspended him for one game for his hit from behind on Sharks defenseman Ian White. The hit was ugly and it caused White to leave the game with an apparent head inury. White’s status for Game 2 is in doubt.
Of course the question with suspendable offenses in the playoffs is whether or not the punishment was harsh enough for the action. When it comes to the playoffs, punishment is always judged a bit differently since the games are that much more important. Sitting a player down for a play that might cost him two to three games in the regular season gets knocked down to one in the playoffs because that one game could swing the series. That’s not proper justification, that’s just how things seem to get handled.
In Stoll’s case, his absence is a crushing blow for the Kings at center. With Anze Kopitar already out, they’ll be down their top two pivots and now need to find a way to make it work for Game 2. Expect to see Michal Handzus and Trevor Lewis along with Brad Richardson to see more time on the ice with Stoll out and Hanzus to become the de facto face off man.
Taking Stoll’s spot on the roster for day is forward John Zeiler. With Zeiler and Oscar Moller the Kings have some options with what they want to do. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun tweets that Zeiler is likely going to see time on the fourth line at center. If the Kings can weather this storm without Stoll and steal Game 2 that gives them a huge swing of momentum heading back to L.A. for Game 3. If the Kings get blown out, Stoll’s dangerous and selfish play will haunt the Kings as they need to be as close to perfect as possible to take out San Jose.
If you’re curious as to where prospect Brayden Schenn might figure into all of this, it turns out that he’s going to Manchester and the AHL to try and help the Monarchs out in the playoffs. An opportunity like this coupled with their injuries up the middle made it seem like an ample opportunity to get Schenn involved, but GM Dean Lombardi is hesitant to break him out in this kind of situation with so little NHL experience.