The Winnipeg Jets will not have forward Mark Scheifele for a significant portion of their Second Round series against the Montreal Canadiens.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced on Thursday evening that Scheifele has been suspended four games for charging Canadiens forward Jake Evans late in the third period of Montreal’s 5-3 win on Wednesday night.
It happened late in the third period when Evans scored an empty-net goal on a wraparound from behind the net. At that point Scheifele skated in from the complete opposite end of the ice and delivered a massive check that resulted in Evans having to leave the game on a stretcher. Scheifele was given a major penalty and a game misconduct.
You can see the play, as well as the NHL’s explanation of the suspension, in the video posted above from the league.
The league notes in its explanation that while Scheifele argues that he was skating back in an attempt to prevent a goal, he makes no effort to actually make a play on the puck with his stick. As the video says, Scheifele instead takes one hand off his stick, turns his shoulder, and loads up for a hit.
They continue: “While players are not required to attempt to play the puck, on this play Scheifele’s choice to not to make a play on the puck tells us he is conceding the empty net goal. This is also not a mere collision between two players attempting to occupy the same space on the ice. Instead, it is apparent to our department that his intention on this play is to deliver a hard violent check to an opponent with the outcome of both the play, and the game, already having been decided. In short, this is a player that has traveled a considerable distance, is moving with exceptional speed, and is fully aware of his momentum, who chooses to charge into a vulnerable opponent with a high, predatory hit that causes an injury.”
Scheifele has never been fined or suspended before this incident.
If the Jets get swept in this series he will have to serve the fourth game of the suspension at the start of next season.
JETS VS. CANADIENS (MTL leads 1-0) – series livestream link
Game 1: Canadiens 5, Jets 3
Game 2: Fri. June 4: Canadiens at Jets, 7:30 p.m. ET (USA Network)
Game 3: Sun. June 6: Jets at Canadiens, 6 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 4: Mon. June 7: Jets at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NHL Network)
*Game 5: Wed. June 9: Canadiens at Jets TBD
*Game 6: Fri. June 11: Jets at Canadiens TBD
*Game 7: Sun. June 13: Canadiens at Jets TBD