A pair of suspensions could come out of Wednesday’s game between the Sharks and Senators after Marc-Edouard Vlasic delivered a seemingly intentional high stick and Mike Hoffman crosschecked Logan Couture in the back of the head.
First came the cross-conference rivalry between the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs, sparked by an early season tilt between the two clubs that turned into a penalty- and fight-filled contest. Now it appears another West Coast team and Southern Ontario club have some heat with each other, and this time it could result in suspensions.
During Wednesday’s game between the San Jose Sharks and the Ottawa Senators, the two teams combined for 71 penalty minutes, including two misconducts and ejection that cost Mike Hoffman the rest of his night.
The first of the two incidents that the Department of Player Safety will be taking a closer look at occurred late in the second period, as Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson got tangled up with Sharks rearguard Marc-Edouard Vlasic behind the San Jose net. As the two defenders battled for a loose puck, Karlsson remained pinned against the boards by Vlasic when the San Jose defenseman appeared to swing his stuck upwards and catch Karlsson in the upper-body with a spear. The best angle available still isn’t a great one, but take a look:
Zapruder-esque nature of the video aside, it’s clear that Vlasic does, at the very least, swing his stick in Karlsson’s direction. The reaction from the Ottawa bench comes after Karlsson is clipped, and post-game, Karlsson said that Vlasic had attempted to “pitchfork” him in the face.
“I’m down in the corner battling and I lose my stick,” Karlsson said. “The play is gone and I’m reaching for it, and he tries to pitchfork me in the face. I’m lucky that I’m looking down, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s a dangerous play. It’s intentional…I’m lucky he didn’t hit me in a bad spot because that was hard.”
Immediately following the slash by Vlasic, which went unpenalized, Kyle Turris rushed to the aid of Karlsson and dropped the gloves with the Sharks defender. For his trouble, Turris received a minor for instigating, fighting major and a misconduct.
When it comes to a possible suspension for Vlasic, it’ll likely come down to whether the league can secure a better angle of the play. Right now, from the view that’s provided in the above video from Sportsnet, it’s near impossible to tell where Vlasic made contact with Karlsson, regardless of the stick-swinging motion.
What’s more certain, though, is that Senators winger Mike Hoffman will at the very least have a phone hearing with the Department of Player Safety for delivering a crosscheck to the head of Logan Couture.
Midway through the third period, as Hoffman wound into the Sharks’ zone carrying the puck, he was shoved to the ice by Couture. Hoffman got back to his feet, controlled the play and dished the puck off, but skating towards the front of the net with Couture in his sights, Hoffman crosschecked Couture right in the back of the head, causing the Sharks pivot to go crashing to the ice.
Hoffman received a major for crosschecking and a game misconduct, hitting the showers early in what was then a 2-2 game. Couture suffered the same fate, too, as skated off the ice following the crosscheck from Hoffman and did not return.
It seems a near certainty that Hoffman will be suspended, but the punishment could potentially be lighter than some suspect. Hoffman has never been fined or suspended by the league, so he will not have repeat offender status, and there’s no word yet on what, if any, lasting injury Couture suffered. That could potentially play a part in determining the suspension length, but it won’t have any impact on whether the league decides the play is worthy of handing Hoffman a ban.
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