DETROIT – It comes as no great surprise that the Red Wings and the Ducks have contrasting opinions of Justin Abdelkader’s hit on Toni Lydman in Game 3 on Saturday.
“I watched the hit again today and, holy mackerel,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said Sunday afternoon. “I don’t know what you’re going to be suspended for, but that’s me. You turn the video and pretend that there was contact to the head maybe you can find something. But a guy is gliding, goes through a guy, I don’t know.”
What is known is that Abdelkader has a 4 p.m. EDT phone hearing this afternoon with Brendan Shanahan, the league's senior vice president of hockey operations and player safety, who will review the evidence and decide if the Red Wings’ forward receives further punishment.
Lydman did not skate in the Ducks’ full team practice at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday. According to Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, Lydman’s availability for Game 4 on Monday is unknown.
“Toni has headaches. He’s got a stiff neck and bright lights are bugging him, so I don’t know when that’s not going to be there,” Boudreau said. “So if we’re going minute by minute and day by day tomorrow is very questionable for him.”
Originally, nothing was called at the time of the hit, which occurred as Lydman retrieved the puck deep in the Ducks’ zone. However, the two referees and two linesmen got together and determined that Abdelkader left his feet on a play that resulted in an injury to Lydman, who needed help off the ice. He did not return to the game.
Not known as a dirty player, Abdelkader was given a five-minute charging major and game-misconduct. The Ducks then capitalized on the ensuing power play when Nick Bonino scored 18-seconds into the man-advantage. That’s all the scoring the Ducks would need as they rolled to a 4-0 win, their sixth in the last 10 playoff games in Detroit.
A suspension for Abdelkader will leave a huge void in the top line for the Red Wings, who don’t have another big body – short of calling up Riley Sheahan from Grand Rapids – to step into Abdelkader’s role as a puck-retrieving forward.
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” Babcock said, referring to Monday’s lineup. “I put 23 guys on the sheet and told them all to get ready to play and I’ll decide tomorrow. It just bides me some time.”
Certainly, players don’t want to see other players injured. But as Daniel Cleary pointed out Sunday, they’re more cognizant of the difference between legal and illegal contact.
“We’ve all seen the head shots through the last couple of years and especially since Shanny’s come out with his videos and what he deems legal versus illegal,” Cleary said. “The onus has to fall on the player that’s given the hit and also, you have to protect yourself out there. You have to be aware at all times and sometimes, you can’t. Toni last night didn’t see Abby. I think he came from his blind side maybe. We all agree that we don’t want anyone to get hurt out there, but it’s a fast game and decisions come very quickly.”
Hoping to return to Anaheim with a 3-1 series lead, the Ducks don’t want to commit any foolish indiscretions on Monday that would allow the Red Wings to even the series, Boudreau said.
“If you want to vent and you want to do dumb acts on people it’s going to people it’s going to end up costing us in the end,” Boudreau said. “It gets you nowhere so the cooler we can stay is the more success we can have. It doesn’t always work the way you want it to, but that’s what we’ve been preaching all year long.”
Should Lydman not be cleared to return for Game 4, the Ducks will likely reinsert defenseman Sheldon Souray, who was a healthy scratch on Saturday. It was his penalty late in Game 2 that led to the Red Wings’ power-play goal in overtime.
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