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Barkov injury could be key to Draisaitl suspension decision – The Hockey Writers – Edmonton Oilers

On Tuesday morning, the consensus among NHL insiders was that Leon Draisaitl’s ability to play in Game 3 for the Edmonton Oilers could depend on whether Aleksander Barkov can play in Game 3 on Thursday. After taking a high shot that resulted in a two-minute penalty, the league is looking at Draisaitl’s shot to Barkov’s jaw. If Barkov is out, the Oilers’ sharpshooter could be out, too.

Several journalists and insiders agree that the hit wasn’t entirely clean. After a messy third game that featured several nasty hits and a few injuries that ultimately led to a 4-1 Oilers loss, the league is looking at it like any questionable play in the Stanley Cup Final.

Darnell Nurse was injured early, Warren Foegele received a game misconduct penalty for a knee-on-knee and Sam Carrick left the field late after spearing Dmitry Kulikov. Draisaitl high-kicked Barkov, Sam Bennett went after Philip Broberg and Evan Bouchard and Aaron Ekblad put Bouchard in what looked like a dangerous MMA chokehold.

Needless to say, this series has become lively.

Was the hit against Draisaitl a move that resulted in a stoppage?

When asked for comment on the hit, Panthers coach Paul Maurice responded, “This is not the Oprah Winfrey show. My feelings don’t matter.” Even though he doesn’t reveal his feelings, fans and media have not shied away from sharing their opinions on the play.

Zach Hyman Leon Draisaitl Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Zach Hyman, Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

Frank Seravalli said he didn’t like the hit, particularly Draisaitl’s takeoff from his feet, but it probably wasn’t worth a suspension. He argued that if the NHL had to look closely to find where a play worthy of a suspension occurred, that player wouldn’t be pulled from a Stanley Cup Final. ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski noted, “I feel like Barkov’s status for Game 3 – not his injury, but whether or not he plays – could tip the matter toward a suspension. But if he plays, I don’t think Draisaitl gets much more than a fine.” David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period and NHL Network noted, “It doesn’t sound like we’re in for any significant punishment for Leon Draisaitl’s hit on Aleksander Barkov last night.” Andy Strickland wrote, “If this were a regular-season game, the league would probably see it differently. Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final presents a different scenario, given the lack of history with Draisaitl. I don’t expect a suspension.”

In my opinion, the hit wasn’t great and Draisaitl did appear to come off his feet. However, I don’t know if he was intentionally aiming for the head or trying to hurt Barkov. So if the league is considering a suspension for this play, the NHL should also consider several plays that went wrong in the first two games and players involved in this series who have been in other playoff rounds where worse violations were committed.

In particular, the Panthers have let Sam Bennett run free in these playoffs and he has arguably crossed the line several times. And frankly, the chokehold Ekblad used on Bouchard was not a hockey play and was borderline dangerous. Bouchard’s tap out was a clear indication he couldn’t breathe and Ekblad not only refused to release the MMA hold but held on for a few more seconds. Non-Oilers fans laugh at the play, but more than Draisaitl’s punch, this play seemed to have the clear intent of taking someone out of the game.

It looks promising that Barkov will play in Game 3

Panthers coach Paul Maurice gave an update on Barkov’s condition today, saying: “He hasn’t gotten any worse, so that’s a really good thing. The real assessment will be tomorrow.” If Barkov continues to make good progress, they should be in “good shape,” according to the coach.

Many believe that the NHL will take a more serious look at Draisaitl’s absence from a game if Barkov is out. If Barkov plays, Leon will likely play, too. Most believe Draisaitl will play anyway, and the NHL’s Department of Player Safety has not released any information or made any statements that any of the plays from Game 2 will be reviewed for additional disciplinary action.