In Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Final series, Matt Carkner of the Ottawa Senators skated over and pummeled Brian Boyle of the New York Rangers early in the first period, repeatedly punching an unwilling combatant and earning a game misconduct.
On Sunday, Carkner learned he also earned a 1-game suspension from the NHL for the attack:
From the NHL:
Ottawa Senators forward Matt Carkner has been suspended for one game for continuing to inflict punishment upon an opponent who was an unwilling combatant in an altercation during Game 2 of the team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with the New York Rangers in New York on Saturday, April 14, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.
Carkner instigated an altercation with New York forward Brian Boyle, who did not respond. After knocking Boyle to the ice with two punches, Carkner continued to throw punches at his opponent, who was an unwilling combatant. Carkner's actions classified him as an "aggressor" under NHL rules.
The incident occurred at 2:15 of the first period. Carkner was assessed a minor penalty for instigating, a major penalty for fighting and a game misconduct.
So what's the logic here, for a 1-game suspension after seven sucker punches?
First off, it appears the NHL sees this Carkner act as following The Code. Boyle punched Erik Karlsson in the face in Game 1; Carkner stepped up for revenge in Game 2.
Boyle wasn't injured on the play. You almost get the sense that the Department of Player Safety would have walked away from this one, given that they only gave Carkner a game.
But, as the video shows, he's done this before. And the intensity of the retribution for Boyle — sucker punches that continued with the player was down on the ice — warranted something from the NHL go along with the game misconduct.
So Carkner gets a game, which is two less than what we figured he'd get, given how politically advantageous it would have been to throw the book at a guy who plays less than 10 minutes some nights.
The crying out about this is intense on Twitter and on NBC, where former Big Bad Boston Bruin Mike Milbury was outraged that a player would seek retribution for a teammate that was targeted in a previous game.
You know how the current NHL ad campaign is "Because It's The Cup"?
We're currently seeing a lot of "Because It's The Playoffs" outrage over stuff like this.
A guy drops his gloves, goes after an opponent, punches him as he's defenseless, all in the name of evening the score for a teammate. He gets an instigator and a game misconduct. How many times do we see this in the regular season, without hearing wails of fury over the NHL's handling of it?
Carkner was kicked out. Boyle was fine. One game — two were this regular season — is enough.