Penguins’ Malkin suspended one game for swinging stick at Flyers’ Raffl

15 Comments

The NHL suspended Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin for a high-sticking incident where he swung his stick from “a dangerous height in arc toward” Philadelphia Flyers forward Michael Raffl.

Malkin was ejected from the game on Monday, which the Penguins ultimately won 4-1.

The league’s explanation is quite interesting, as it’s noted that a stick infraction can draw supplementary discipline, whether contact is actually made or not:

As you can see, the Department of Player Safety’s explanation video cites rule 60.4:

via NHL

This can be seen as a response to Malkin’s comments after the game, not to mention potential complaints from Penguins fans.

“I’m not trying to hit his face. … I know it’s dirty, but I missed,” Malkin said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He just like dived and the referee give me five minutes. [He wasn’t] injured, not bleeding, nothing.”

The league notes Malkin’s history of fines in its explanation, and there’s no denying that Malkin’s lost his cool on the ice quite a few times over the years, particularly if you go beyond the “history” that tends to count as far as supplemental discipline is concerned.

(You could probably put together a lowlight reel of his run-ins with the Flyers, alone.)

The edge Malkin plays will likely helps him become such a dominant force. When the Russian center gets a full head of steam, he can sometimes seem like a runaway train, and it must be frightening for opponents to try to deal with Malkin at his best.

Perhaps that can become a double-edged sword, though, as sometimes Malkin’s emotions get the best of him. As just another recent example: fighting with Steven Stamkos may have been ill-advised, as his injury might have stemmed from that bout.

The Penguins will take the good that comes with the very sporadic bad when it comes to Malkin, but if you’ve followed his career, it’s something that sprouts up from time to time, sometimes in dramatic ways.

Malkin won’t be able to play Wednesday’s NBCSN game against the Edmonton Oilers, while he’ll be eligible to return against the Calgary Flames on Saturday. Perhaps the silver lining is that, if Malkin is still recovering a bit, this gives him more time to heal up?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.