Washington Capitals star forward Nicklas Backstrom must be suspended for his cross-check to the face of Boston Bruins winger Rich Peverley during Monday night's Game 3, which the Bruins won, 4-3.
“He tried to cross-check me in the face,” Peverley said via CSN Washington. “We’ll let the league deal with that.”
Backstrom received a match penalty for the cross-check, which by rule should result in an automatic suspension.
In addition to match penalty, player shall be automatically suspended from further competition until Commissioner has ruled on the issue.— Mike Vogel (@VogsCaps) April 17, 2012
It's very unlikely that any suspension given would be more than one game, which is fine in this instance, but the NHL could step in and rescind the suspension.
Here is the video of the cross-check.
Luckily for Peverley, he was wearing a shield, because if he wasn't, this incident could have turned out a lot worse.
Capitals head coach Dale Hunter, who was one of the most physical players of his time, reportedly didn't think the Backstrom cross-check was too bad.
Hunter on Backstrom match: "I think the league will review it and rescind it. If you see it, it's not bad." #Caps— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) April 17, 2012
The Capitals have now cross-checked a Bruins player in the face in each game of this series. Jay Beagle did it to David Krejci in Game 1, which resulted in a double-minor penalty because there was blood, and Alexander Ovechkin did it in Game 2 to Dennis Seidenberg but escaped a penalty.
Sure, the Bruins have done stuff after the whistle, too, but cross-checking players in the face is really dangerous and can lead to serious injury.
Craig Adams of the Pittsburgh Penguins was suspended for Game 4 of his team's series with the Philadelphia Flyers for receiving a match penalty at the end of Sunday's Game 3. Penguins forward Arron Asham also gave a cross-check to the face of Flyers forward Brayden Schenn in Game 3, and he was ejected as a result of the altercation.
Neither Adams nor Asham is his team's second-best player like Backstrom is for the Capitals, so it will be interesting to see what the league does here.
We've seen star players get off easy this season when facing possible suspensions, and we've seen it in the playoffs as well.
Nashville Predators star defenseman Shea Weber got away with slamming an opponent's head into the glass on purpose last week, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Backstrom get away with his cross-check.
However, the league has already made a number of terrible player discipline decisions in the playoffs thus far, and it cannot afford to screw up another one.
Nicholas Goss is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He was also the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Boston.