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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has suspended Philadelphia Flyers forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare one game for riding Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov, “forcefully into the boards (from behind) causing a dangerous impact.”
The play occurred at the 12:17 mark of the third period of Washington’s 6-1 Game 3 victory over the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.
The Department of Player Safety pointed out that, “Bellemare is in control of this play at all times. From the moment he hits the top of the circle, Bellemare sees nothing but Orlov’s numbers.”
They also say that the angle Bellemare took made sure he would hit Orlov’s back.
Bellemare, a depth forward who had seven goals in 74 games played this season while averaging 13:34 of ice-time, was given a major penalty and game misconduct for checking from behind. Flyers fans reacted to the penalty by throwing wristbands that were given out before the game on the ice.
This led to a warning by officials about not throwing the wristbands on the ice. On the ensuing power play, the Capitals scored and fans tossed the bracelets on the ice again, leading to a delay of game penalty on the Flyers. On Tuesday, Philadelphia’s COO apologized for the incident.
The player safety video notes that Orlov indeed loses an edge on the play, which appeared to increase the force of the hit, “but the onus here is on Bellemare to not take advantage of a player in a vulnerable position.”
Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall disagreed with that assessment when he spoke with TSN before the suspension announcement.
“If you watch this really closely, Pierre-Edouard is going in on the forecheck to battle hard for the puck,” Hextall said. “He’s got one hand on the stick. There’s no cross-check. There’s no nothing. If you look closely, there’s no force that he applies. What happened was, Orlov stops, or put on the brakes, and Belly’s momentum goes into him and propels him into the boards. So, it’s that Belly’s responsibility, or is it the defenseman’s responsibility? What do you do when a guy slams on the brakes and lowers his body and is propelled into the boards?”
The Capitals are up 3-0 on the Flyers, which means Bellemare’s season may be over if Washington wins Game 4 on Wednesday. Orlov returned to the game and completed it. Bellemare hadn't received any prior supplemental discipline in his 155-game NHL career.
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