It took a curious amount of time, but the NHL rolled out suspensions for two controversial figures in the penalty-filled Game 3 between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins. While star sniper James Neal will sit out Game 4, tough winger Arron Asham will miss the rest of the first round – no matter what. The league handed Asham a four-game suspension for a cross-check on Flyers youngster Brayden Schenn.
Here is the explanation video:
So, how do you feel? Is that punishment too light, just right or too harsh? Do tell.
We’ve heard from plenty of people who aren’t too happy with how Brendan Shanahan and the NHL have handled league discipline during the playoffs and now you can add Jonathan Toews’ name to the list.
Toews tells David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune that players are confused as to what is and isn’t dirty and which plays will lead to suspensions. The instance Toews focuses on most is Shea Weber’s wrestling-like move on Henrik Zetterberg.
“In a situation like that with Weber, more than anything you should make an example of it, regardless of whether he’s a star player,” said Toews, who missed 22 games due to a concussion. “They have been trying to make an example of things like that so they don’t happen again and all of a sudden you let one slide like that. Everyone must feel like they’re back to square one. So it is frustrating.”
Whether you believe they’re back to square one or if players feel like it’s open season to do as you will, daring the league to do something about it, that’s up for debate. This is a situation the league created for itself either way and upsetting the players during the league’s most important time of year doesn’t do anyone any favors.
You’ll have to wonder if Toews will feel the same way should his teammate, Andrew Shaw, wind up getting suspended for running into Coyotes goalie Mike Smith in Game 2.
Longer-term history would indicate that Nicklas Backstrom won’t be suspended for a late cross-check that generated a match penalty in Game 3, although Craig Adams’ one-game suspension makes it a more interesting question. Washington Capitals coach Dale Hunter appears confident that he’ll have the talented Swede in the lineup, as he told media members such as Sky Kerstein.
Hunter said that he expects the league to review the situation – a requirement to avoid an automatic suspension – and for the NHL to rescind the match penalty. Hunter opined that “it wasn’t that bad.”
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Not too surprisingly, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien was less-than-thrilled. Stephen Whyno reports that Julien claims this was “the third time in three games” that a Capitals player delivered a cross-check to a Bruins player’s face.
Whether Backstrom plays in Game 4 or not, it seems like there will be quite a bit more tension in the air in DC and then Boston as this series goes along.