NHL Playoffs 2012: A Look at All the Suspensions in the Postseason
This year the postseason has been bogged down with a number of penalties, yet it's the number of penalties that have resulted in suspensions that is so staggering.
There have been 11 suspensions in this year's playoffs as we near the halfway mark of the second round. Last year there were only four, not including two carry-overs from the regular season.
There were a total of six suspensions in the first round of this years playoffs alone, with two being dealt to Pittsburgh, and one a piece for Chicago, Ottawa, New York and Vancouver.
Out of all the suspensions, the one that is most frequent is the 'Boarding' call. In the later rounds it has only been for one game, but Byron Bitz of the Vancouver Canucks had to sit out for two.
From Carkner hunting down Boyle to throw some punches, to the elbow thrown By Carl Hagelin on Alfredsson, the Ottawa and New York series was a violent one, laden with penalties resulting in suspensions.
It became a bit of a fiasco when Carkner skated across ice to hit Boyle before tossing his gloves to throw some punches.
Boyle never even got his gloves off.
The attack on Karlsson in Game 1 is what allegedly started this. Carkner did get a two minute minor for instigating, five minute major for fighting, and a ten minute game misconduct.
Carkner then revived a one-game suspension from the head disciplinarian, Brendan Shanahan.
The elbow to Alfredsson was a flagrant attempt to take out Ottawa's captain. It managed to get Rangers, Carl Hagelin a three game suspension from Shanahan.
What had more people upset about this hit was not the overselling of Alfredsson, but the fact that Shea Weber of Nashville had a similar hit on Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg, but received no suspension.
Again in the first round between Chicago and Phoenix, another player tried to use physicality to take out a player who had been a large part of their opponent's success. Chicago's Andrew Shaw tried to run down the Coyote goaltender, Mike Smith.
Watching the replay shows that as soon as Shaw finished the hit on Smith he came around the net with his arms out looking ready to dispute a call. Shanahan gave Shaw three games for charging for the hit.
During the series between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia we saw two more brutal hits, both from the Penguins.
Looking at the James Neal hit on Sean Couturier, it shows Philadelphia's Couturier paying more attention to the puck than he was James Neal.
The hit sent the Flyers centerman off his feet. He would eventually make it back with help, as Neal awaited the call in front of his bench. He would receive only one game for his hit, which looked to be a little worse than the hit Smith suffered.
Don't forget in that same game Arron Asham caught Brayden Schenn with a crosscheck to the throat, then followed it up with a shot to the back of the head while Schenn lay motionless on the ice.
Schenn had just moments before landed a huge hit on Paul Martin, the difference being that unlike Asham's hit, the one on Martin was clean.
The announcers on NBC called it frustration on the Penguins' part. They were down 3-1 in the first period when Asham hit Schenn. If that was the reason behind it, then the ends do not justify the means.
April 17th was a busy day for Brendan Shanahan, as the Shaw, Asham, and Neal suspensions were dealt that day with one other.
Washington's Nicklas Backstrom, in the final moment of the game, took offense to Boston Bruin Rich Peverly tripping Washington's captain. It looked like they exchanged a few words before Backstrom threw his stick up, hitting Peverley in the visor.
Shanahan suspended Backstrom for one game for his “excessive and reckless” hit, according to his video that explained the suspension.
While the suspensions calmed slightly during the second round, they did not stop as two more would be handed out.
One that caused a great stir among the fans was the Claude Giroux hit on Dainius Zubrus. After looking at the hit, Giroux raises his shoulder slightly to finish the hit as Zubrus passes the puck seconds before.
Have all the suspensions been justified?
Much to the ire of Flyers fans, it was called a late hit, which is why Giroux was handed a one-game suspension.
Of all the teams penalised with suspensions, none has seen as many or as large a suspension as the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Coyotes are a physical team, yet the three suspensions they have received thus far did seem warranted.
In the second round against Nashville Rostislav Klesla garnered a two minute penalty for pushing Matt Halischuk into the boards.
This hit was particularly harsh as Halischuk had just regained his footing just past center ice when Klesla decided to push him head first into the boards at the Phoenix bench.
Shanahan would give out only a one-game suspension for a dirty hit.
Klesla's hit occurred in Game 4 of that series, after Nashville had taken Game 3.
It seems to be a trend for Phoenix: when they are having problems playing against one player, they try to take them out.
In Game 2 against LA, Phoenix struck again. Martin Hanzal slammed the King's captain and points leader, Dustin Brown, from behind into the boards.
Luckily for the Kings, Brown is one tough customer. Rather than lie there, he was back up in moments, and instead of taking a stupid penalty for retaliation LA simply added another goal. Giving them a 4-0 win in Game 2.
Had Brown not recovered so quickly, you can be sure that Shanahan would have given Hanzal more than the one game suspension.
So far in these playoffs, for as many suspensions as there have been, one was absolutely beyond all others. It too was from a member of the Phoenix Coyotes.
During the first round against Chicago, repeat offender Raffi Torres hit Marian Hossa. The Chicago star was badly injured during that hit, so much so that he was carried out on a stretcher.
It was a similar hit to the one Torres had on Seabrook last playoffs while he himself was with the Canucks. It also held shades of Aaron Rome's hit on Nathan Horton during the Stanley Cup Finals last year.
This hit was particularly brutal, not just due to the fact that Hossa ended up in the hospital, but when watching the replay you can clearly see Torres leave his feet to deliver the check.
In one of the longest suspensions handed out, Torres was told he would not play for 25 games. It was also made clear that the games would carry over to next season.
While checking and fighting in hockey may never fully leave, all of these suspensions seemed to go beyond trying to hit the opponent, but trying to end their season.
Shanahan has had a truly busy postseason so far, and with more than a round left it may not be over yet.
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