Maybe the pressure of trying to win a fourth Stanley Cup is getting to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
On Saturday, Sidney Crosby sucker-punched Washington Capitals forward Nic Dowd in the jaw out of frustration. Just over 24 hours later, Evgeni Malkin lost his cool against the Nashville Predators and hit defenseman Mark Borowiecki with a remorseless cross-check to the face after they got tangled up behind the play.
Borowiecki was given a two-minute minor for slashing while Malkin received a double minor for high sticking after drawing blood, avoiding a match penalty for intent to injure, or even an extra two minutes for slicing the 35-year-old’s stick in half.
The NHL’s department of player safety announced that Malkin will have a hearing Monday evening.
Like the rest of us, former NHL referee Don Koharski was baffled with how the officials handled things when discussing the play on the NHL on TNT broadcast.
Don Koharski on TNT: “This is malicious, this is a cross-check to the guys face.”
“The double-minor…um, they obviously didn’t have a real good look at it and I don’t know what their decision came to a double-minor for, but that’s a pretty blatant cross-check to the face.”
— Kristopher Martel (@kmartel_sports) April 10, 2022
Really appreciate the TNT intermission guys calling the Malkin/Borowiecki stuff as it is. That’s some horrific officiating on that one. Not giving malkin a major is egregious, and giving borowiecki a slashing minor while he *didn’t swing his stick at anyone*. Just bad all around
— ryan (@AngryPredsFan) April 10, 2022
This is not the first net-front cross-check to the mouth that warranted a suspension this season. Just a few weeks ago, Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews was handed a two-game suspension for a very similar play during the 2022 Heritage Classic against the Buffalo Sabres. For what it’s worth, Koharski said he expects Malkin to receive a stiffer punishment than what Matthews got for his transgression.
#TNT Analyist Don Kohorski expects 3-5 game suspension for Malkin
— Bob Pompeani (@KDPomp) April 10, 2022
Malkin has been suspended one other time in his career, earning a one-game ban in 2019 for recklessly swinging his stick at Michael Raffl‘s head. He also received a major penalty and game misconduct in 2018 for a head shot on T.J. Oshie, but avoided further punishment from the NHL.
As it always is with the NHL’s department of player safety, it’s hard to predict what justice, if any, they will hand out.
Through 37 games this season, Malkin has scored 17 goals and 37 points.
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