NHL Playoffs 2012: Suspension Would Be the Safest Place for James Neal

Ian Barry@@xIanxBarryxCorrespondent IIIApril 17, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 15:  James Neal #18 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his goal against the Philadelphia Flyers in the second period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 15, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Game 3 for the Flyers and the Penguins was a war between two bitter rivals.

Most players were able to keep from crossing the line, but Penguins forward James Neal was not. It is likely that Neal will have some sort of discipline from the league, but if no action is taken by the league, the Flyers will take action in Game 4.

The Flyers/Penguins series has been the most passionate and most eventful series so far in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Both teams were just waiting for something to trigger the explosion of hate that the teams share for each other. When the series got to Philadelphia, the atmosphere created by battle-ready Flyers fans was all it took to set it off.

With just over five minutes left in a game that was already filled with fights and huge hits, James Neal crossed the line.

Neal left his feet and laid a massive hit on an unsuspecting Sean Couturier who had already passed the puck away. Couturier went down and needed helped into the locker room.

Later in the game, Neal was at it again when he approached Claude Giroux from behind and attempted to elbow him in the back of the head. Giroux was able to duck and avoid most of the contact, but the hit still knocked his helmet down over his eyes and caused him to go down.

Neal eventually received a misconduct penalty and was done for the game.

The NHL has been open with their attempts to eliminate all head shots, and has been trying to give suspensions to violators.

They have not been consistent, however, with this effort, so while Neal might be very deserving of a suspension for his actions the NHL might not hold him responsible for them.

Being suspended would be a good thing for Neal. The NHL has a long history of players sticking up for each other and taking the law into their own hands.

The Flyers are a physical team from top to bottom, and nobody backs away from physical play. Assistant coach Craig Berube knows how to instruct his players to get revenge.

The Flyers need to be careful not to do anything that would result in suspensions for the next round, but they will defend their team.

Neal crossed the line when he targeted two of the Flyers top players and tried to injure them. The Flyers are a team that protects each other at all cost, so being suspended might be the safest place for James Neal.