Suspend him or not: Kris Letang gets away with an absurdly violent slash in Game 3

Kris Letang escaped any penalty call during a crucial moment in Game 3 when he caught the Rangers’ Viktor Stalberg with a devastating slash. Will league discipline follow?

Full marks to the Pittsburgh Penguins for winning Game 3 against the New York Rangers Tuesday night. Details here. But, sheesh, things might have gone differently had the referees caught defenseman Kris Letang’s dastardly act in the third period.

The Penguins led 2-1 at this point, so the Rangers surely could’ve used a power play, and they deserved to get one here. Check out the over-the-top slash from Letang on Rangers right winger Viktor Stalberg:

The slash is so violent, so direct, that I had to re-watch it several times to believe it. Was Letang’s elbow bumped? Did he stumble? Was he trying to use his stick to steady himself as he collided with two Ranger players at once? I don’t see it. He looked right at Stalberg, appeared to have a steady footing, wound up, and baseball-swung his stick into Stalberg’s head.

It feels weird to imagine Letang doing something like this, as he isn’t known as a dirty player. He was last disciplined by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety in 2011, when he earned two games on a boarding charge. But, even if his reputation doesn’t precede him, Letang did something extremely dangerous Tuesday night. Even if we somehow decipher that his slash was accidental – it was still careless enough to be deplorable.

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The guess here is Letang gets a long look from the DOPS and winds up suspended. He’d miss more than just a couple games in a perfect world given how blatant the slash was. The Rangers have every right to be furious considering they missed what should’ve been a power play opportunity to tie the game.

Matt Larkin is a writer and editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin