David Pastrnak, Dan Girardi and high hit. If those were the two names and one action you had to make an NHL ‘Mad Libs,’ you’d likely come out the other side with a story about how the New York Rangers defenseman had crushed the young Boston Bruins winger and was heading for a meeting with the Department of Player Safety.
But my, how wrong you’d be.
Following Wednesday’s game between the Bruins and Rangers, it’s Pastrnak who is facing a possible suspension for delivering a high hit on Girardi.
The hit came midway through the second period when Girardi went to field a puck that had been flipped high into the air and out of the Bruins’ zone. As the Rangers rearguard looked up to catch the puck, eyes focused on making the play, Pastrnak came from across the neutral zone and delivered a solid jolt that left Girardi down on the ice. Take a look:
The case can certainly be made that Pastrnak is going to find himself sitting for at least a game or two after seeing the slow-motion of his hit on Girardi, and it’s a pretty strong case, too. It’d be one thing for Pastrnak to leave his feet and make shoulder-to-shoulder contact, but he jumps into a hit that appears to make direct contact with Girardi’s head.
As a result of the hit, Pastrnak ended up with a minor penalty for checking to the head, and Girardi was forced to leave the game briefly before returning later in the second frame. It doesn’t appear the Rangers defenseman will be missing any further time, but the evaluation was necessary after he took a forceful blow to the head.
If the league does decide to suspend Pastrnak, it will help him that this is his first offense and that Girardi didn’t appear to suffer any lasting injury. Even still, it feels as though a game or two ban is heading Pastrnak’s way.
For the Bruins, losing Pastrnak right now would be incredibly disappointing, especially with how well he’s been producing early this season. Through seven games, Pastrnak has five goals and eight points while skating on the second line, and only Brad Marchand has contributed more to the attack than Pastrnak.
UPDATE: The NHL's Department of Player Safety announced Friday that Pastrnak has been suspended for two games for his hit on Girardi. NHL director of player safety Patrick Burke said that Pastrnak "unnecessarily extends up and into the head of Girardi, delivering a blow to the head and knocking him to the ice." While Girardi was eligible to be hit, it was the extension upwards instead of through the body that resulted in the suspension, especially considering Girardi's head didn't change position moments before or just as Pastrnak delivered the check.
The suspension is the first of Pastrnak's career, and it will cost him $10,277.78 in salary, all of which will go towards the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
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