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Drew Doughty to Have Hearing for Hit on William Carrier; Will He Be Suspended?

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The Kings’ #1 defenseman hopes to avoid discipline for a second-period hit on the Vegas forward.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Los Angeles Kings at Vegas Golden Knights Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, Drew Doughty got into a bit of hot water. In perhaps the most physical game of the Los Angeles Kings’ season, Doughty committed an open-ice hit on William Carrier, who had ten hits of his own for the Vegas Golden Knights. However, Doughty’s hit made contact with Carrier’s head, and Carrier left the game.

This is a classic example of a hit that looks innocent enough from other angles and didn’t get as much attention until the above slow motion replay. It wasn’t penalized during the game, but the NHL thought enough of it to give Doughty a call. And they should! There’s head contact and that should be enough to at least necessitate a hearing, even if nothing comes of it. No harm in considering it.

There would be harm to the Kings in losing Doughty, though, especially with Derek Forbort and possibly Jake Muzzin out of the lineup. So rather than trying to argue whether or not he should be suspended, we’re going to let you vote on that, then tell you a little something about playoff suspensions.

Poll

Should Drew Doughty be suspended for his hit on William Carrier yesterday?

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    Yes
    (214 votes)
  • 62%
    No
    (356 votes)
570 votes total Vote Now

So. Playoff suspensions are unusual, as you might expect, but there were actually a flurry of punishments as recently as 2016. That year, five players were suspended, though only four of those took effect in the postseason and one (Andrew Shaw’s) was due to his use of a homophobic slur and not a check. Last season, though, only one player (Matt Calvert) was suspended, for a stick-breaking cross-check on Tom Kuhnhackl. Nick Ritchie also missed a playoff game, but it was from a suspension that extended from the regular season. Here are the last 15 players suspended for playoff games:

NHL Players Suspended from Postseason Play (Since 2014)

DATE PLAYER TEAM LENGTH EJECTED? PRIOR SUSPENSION?
DATE PLAYER TEAM LENGTH EJECTED? PRIOR SUSPENSION?
4/14/2017 Matt Calvert CBJ 1 game Yes* No
4/6/2017 Nick Ritchie ANA 2 games Yes No
5/2/2016 Kris Letang PIT 1 game No Yes
5/1/2016 Brooks Orpik WSH 3 games No Yes
4/24/2016 Brayden Schenn PHI 3 games** No Yes
4/19/2016 Andrew Shaw CHI 1 game No Yes
4/18/2016 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare PHI 1 game Yes No
4/27/2015 Niklas Kronwall DET 1 game No Yes
5/27/2014 John Moore NYR 2 games Yes Yes
5/22/2014 Brandon Prust MTL 2 games No Yes
5/22/2014 Daniel Carcillo NYR 10 games*** Yes Yes
5/9/2014 Brandon Bollig CHI 2 games No No
4/21/2014 Matt Cooke MIN 7 games No Yes
4/19/2014 Brent Seabrook CHI 3 games Yes No
4/10/2014 Mike Rupp MIN 4 games Yes No
*Calvert was penalized with a minor penalty, but he missed the remainder of game. **Flyers were eliminated, pushing Schenn’s suspension to the regular season. ***This was an automatic suspension for pushing an official.

The recent suspensions all have one of two elements that the Doughty hit does not have. Each punishable play was either (a) severe enough to warrant ejection/removal from the game or (b) committed by someone who’d been suspended before. The last to not fall into either category was Brandon Bollig’s, four years ago. (EDIT: Calvert’s was not technically an ejection, but since it occurred in the final minute of the third period, he did miss the rest of the game.)

You can also see that the “star defenseman” exemption is not a thing. At least, it wasn’t two years ago, for Kris Letang. We also remember Duncan Keith’s suspension for slashing Jeff Carter in the face. If Doughty escapes with no suspension for a borderline hit, it’ll be because (a) it was borderline and (b) he’s never been suspended before.

[UPDATE: The league has suspended Doughty for one game.]