Lucic Suspended For Game 3

Milan Lucic

The NHL has come down with its decision to suspend Bruin’s forward Milan Lucic for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The suspension stemming from Lucic’s actions at the end of Saturday night’s Game 2, at the time given a match penalty which turned into a 1-game suspension. This suspension is part of an ongoing attempt by the NHL to prevent teams from sending a message at the end of games. While it is a legimate claim, the NHL should not pick and choose when they are going to take action on a player’s post-game activities. For example Montreal’s Komisarek and/or Kostopoulos attempting to injure players when the game is over.

NHL.com has more on the story:

Sunday, 04.19.2009 / 6:42 PM / 2009 Playoffs Conference Quarterfinals
By Shawn P. Roarke  – NHL.com Managing Editor
MONTREAL — Boston forward Milan Lucic was suspended for one game Sunday by the NHL for the match penalty he received a day earlier in the Bruins’ 5-1 victory against Montreal in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.

Lucic, who has two assists and 24 penalties in the first two games of this best-of-7 series, will miss Monday’s Game 3 at the Bell Centre. Boston leads the series, two games to none.

On the incident in question, Lucic struck Maxim Lapierre in the head with his stick during a scrum in front of Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak with 4:32 remaining in Game 2.

The incident began with Lucic and Montreal defenseman Mathieu Schneider in a pushing match with their sticks, earning Lucic a cross-checking penalty  and Schneider a high-sticking infraction.

Montreal’s Maxim Lapierre quickly joined the fracas and Lucic hit the Montreal forward in the face with his stick, earning a match penalty under Rule 60.4, which mandates the call when “a player or goaltender attempts to or deliberately injures an opponent while carrying or holding any part of his stick above the shoulders of the opponent.”

“While it is unclear whether Lucic’s glove or stick makes contact with Lapierre, what is clear is that he delivered a reckless and forceful blow to the head of his opponent,” said NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell.

The call was originally announced as two minutes for high-sticking, five minutes for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct. After the game, the call was changed to two minutes for cross checking and a match penalty, which, by NHL rules, necessitated a mandatory disciplinary hearing with League officials.

That meeting, conducted by phone, was held Sunday afternoon before the Bruins departed for Montreal in preparation of Monday night’s Game 3.

Lucic was not available for comment after Game 2 or after during the team’s availability in Game 3.

Before the suspension was announced, Claude Julien said he would dress rugged forward Byron Bitz in his place. Bitz, a rookie, would likely play on the fourth line with Stephane Yelle and Shawn Thornton, while current fourth-liner Blake Wheeler would move up to Lucic’s spot as the left wing on the second line with center Dave Krejci and winger Michael Ryder.

With the injury to matt Hunwick before Game 2 forcing reserve Shane Hnidy into the lineup and with defenseman Andrew Ference still on the mend, Boston will have no reserves if Bitz dresses Monday.

That means the team will likely have to make a call-up or two from Providence before Monday’s game. Providence plays Game 3 of its first-round matchup of the Calder Cup playoffs Sunday night.

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