DETROIT – The National Hockey League has suspended Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader for two-games as a result of his illegal hit to the head of Anaheim defenseman Toni Lydman during Saturday’s Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals at Joe Louis Arena.
Brendan Shanahan, the league’s senior vice president of hockey operations and player safety, said Sunday that his conclusion was based on a review of three factors: the definition on the violation, charging; Abdelkader doesn’t have a violent history; and Lydman was injured on the play.
“Abdelkader elevates at contact turning what could have been a hard full-body check into a high, violent check with significant contact to the head that caused an injury,” said Shanahan, in a video released by the league.
The incident occurred at 15:11 of the second period, which resulted in Abdelkader being assessed a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. NHL Rule 42 states: “Charging shall mean the actions of a player who, as a result of distance traveled, shall violently check an opponent in any manner.”
Abdelkader will sit out Game 4 Monday at Joe Louis Arena, as well as Game 5 in Anaheim. His absence will be big, particularly for the Wings’ top forward line of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, who reply on the physical winger to get them the puck in the offensive zone.
“He's a physical guy and he creates a lot of space and time and me and Pav,” Zetterberg said. “He works really hard on the forecheck and gives us the puck and after that he goes to the front of the net and screens the goalie and is there for rebounds.”
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