The Boston Bruins are looking to end a three-game skid that has put them at 3-4-0 on the season, but they'll have to try to do it without their leading goal scorer. David Pastrnak has been suspended two games by the NHL's Department of Player Safety for delivering an illegal check to the head on New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi Wednesday night.
The Bruins forward did receive a minor penalty for the hit during the game, but had to have a phone hearing Thursday. Now he'll have to sit out two important divisional games on the road.
In the Department of Player Safety's explanation, it was their feeling that Pastrnak extended into a hit on Girardi, who had just played a puck with his glove and didn't even see the Bruins winger coming at him. The head was the principal point of contact and Girardi's body position did not materially change to contribute to make head contact unavoidable. As has been the case in other suspensions for illegal head contact, it was the department's feeling that Pastrnak could have made a legal check, but failed to do so.
Here's the full explanation:
Pastrnak isn't typically an overly physical player. But like anyone else, he's going to try to get his licks in when he can. It looks like he was just a bit overzealous in trying to deliver a hit on Girardi and kind of lunged into the hit instead of staying square.
The fact that Pastrnak had no prior disciplinary history and that Girardi was not injured on the play probably saved him at least a game on the suspension, as head checks are usually right around three games for supplemental discipline.
The Bruins will certainly miss the 20-year-old as they travel for games against the red-hot Detroit Red Wings and playoff contender Florida Panthers. The Czech native's five goals lead the team, while his eight points put him behind Brad Marchand.
He will be able to get back into the lineup for another key divisional game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Meanwhile, his second game back from suspension, the Bruins will be meeting the New York Rangers once again.