Justin Abdelkader was suspended today for games 4 and 5 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs resulting from a clean but vicious hit on Anaheim’s Toni Lydman. Brendan Shanahan, Director of NHL player safety, had a different opinion. Shanahan, who was known during his playing days for delivering vicious hits, classified the hit as charging and rather than a hard body check.
Lydman, who has a history of concussions, did not return to the ice and is doubtful for game 4 due to headaches.
One of Shanhan’s key points was that Abdlekader traveled a great distance to check Lydman. You could make that point if you completely ignored the fact that Lydman had the puck.
It is clear to me that Abdelkader made an aggressive hockey play to free up the puck. Unfortunately he got injured on the check but injuries happen all the time in sports.
Lydman also has a history of providing hard hits. In fact, he delivered a hit on Abdelkader in Game 2 where Abdlekader took a knee to the head. So unless the NHL changes its stance on fighting they can expect players to even the score when opportunities arise.
So what does this mean for the Red Wings in game 4? Mike Babcock said during his game 3 post game press conference that: “We don’t have anybody like that.” That is a scary assessment from the head coach and a dire one for the Wings chances in the series
It is likely that Tood Bertuzzi will take Abdlekader’s place in the starting line-up. Bertuzzi,who has missed most of the season with back spasms, is unlikely to provide the physical presence Abdelkader did.
The Red Wings will try to tie up the series on Monday night at Joe Louis arena. The puck drops at 7:30 and coverage start on Fox Sports Detroit at 7:00 pm.