Will we see a Suspension or Suspensions?
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
By Jason Gregor19 days ago
The Edmonton Oilers and Vegas Golden Knights are officially rivals. There wasn’t much animosity between the two since Vegas arrived in the NHL in 2017-18, but playoff hockey breeds animosity amongst organizations and fanbases, and last night’s final two minutes was the spark that ignited this into a full-blown rivalry.
Regular season meetings next year will be more intense. It’s just how it is, but we still have at least two more games, possibly three, remaining in this series and emotions will be running high.
This has been the most physical second round series, and the Oilers have been the most physical team delivering 175 hits, Seattle is next with 162 while Vegas has 123 hits. This series has seen a total of 298 hits while Toronto/Florida has 272, Carolina/New Jersey 267 and Dallas/Seattle 257.
Dallas’ Miro Heiskanen has taken 42 hits, while Vegas blueliners Zach Whitecloud (40) and Alex Pietrangelo (39) sit second and third. Edmonton has made a concerted effort to hit Pietrangelo. Evander Kane, Leon Draisaitl, and Connor McDavid have delivered hard hits on Pietrangelo, and you wonder if all those hits are what led to him snapping and taking a long, high, swinging slash to the arm of Draisaitl with 1:27 remaining in the game.
It was a dumb play by Pietrangelo.
It was a clear intent to injure when you consider the score, time on the clock, how high he raised his stick, and how late it was. The only question is will he get one game or two? NHL player safety announced this morning that Pietrangelo will have a hearing today. It is later in the series, and the NHL views suspensions of games five, six, or seven more severe than games one, two or three and that’s why I think he will get one. You can make a strong argument he should get two games. But he will be suspended, I don’t see any way the NHL can ignore it.
The other factor is Darnell Nurse was assessed an instigator in the final minute, which comes with an automatic one-game suspension. Any instigator in the last five minutes is an automatic one-game suspension. However, the NHL has rescinded the automatic suspension in the past.
Nurse did come in from the points, but Hague was expecting it. I wonder if this quote from Mark Stone will factor into the NHL’s decision.
If Hague did ask him to fight off the earlier faceoff will that help Nurse’s chances of having the suspension rescinded? We will see.
It would be a big blow for the Oilers and Golden Knights. Nurse played arguably the best game of his career last night. He was a force all game. He was physical, he won numerous battles, and was outstanding on the penalty kill. “He was outstanding tonight,” said Stuart Skinner. “He was the reason we blanked them on the penalty kill, and he was excellent all game.” He played a game-high 23:07, had four hits, an assist, and was +1 at 5×5, and didn’t allow one shot against when facing Jack Eichel’s line.
The NHL could take the easy way out and uphold Nurse’s suspension, give Pietrangelo one game, and call it a day. I don’t think it would the right message that Pietrangelo’s actions garner the same discipline as Nurse’s. The Department of Player Safety is supposed to protect the players, and we don’t see slashes like Pietrangelo’s very often. I can’t recall the last time a player wound up that high and targeted a player’s arm. The fact it was against the NHL’s leading scorer in the playoffs could factor in their decision.
The decision for both Pietrangelo and Nurse will come down later today, and both decisions will impact the series. I think Pietrangelo should have a stiffer punishment, based on the action of the play, so he gets one and Nurse has his game rescinded, or they uphold Nurse’s and Pietrangelo gets two.
What do you think the NHL will do?
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