Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty has been suspended for Game 2 of their Stanley Cup playoff series against the Vegas Golden Knights after an illegal check to the head of forward William Carrier in Game 1.
The hit was delivered midway through the third period Wednesday night, as Carrier attempted to move the puck to a teammate in the Kings' defensive zone and Doughty delivered what the NHL on Thursday called a "high, forceful hit that makes Carrier's head the main point of contact, on a hit where such head contact was avoidable."
Hence, even though Doughty made initial contact with Carrier's arm, the Vegas forward's head was the main point of contact, which meant the hit violated NHL Rule 48 for illegal checks to the head.
Carrier didn't see the ice again after that incident. There was no penalty called on the play.
"He played an excellent game. He was finishing checks. In the first period, he had six big hits, and they were clean hard hits," Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said of Carrier. "To me, it was a bad hit [by Doughty]."
Doughty has never been suspended during his previous 770 regular-season and 82 postseason games. Players without prior suspensions, on average, rarely get postseason bans. Since 2013, there have been 20 players suspended by the Department of Player Safety in the postseason; of those 20, only eight players had never been suspended before.
The loss of Doughty for Game 2 could have a devastating effect on defense for the Kings, who lost Game 1 at Vegas 1-0. They played that game without injured defensemen Derek Forbort and Jake Muzzin. Now, they'll be without their best defenseman and a player who is expected to be a finalist for the Norris Trophy this season. Doughty was third on the Kings in scoring with 60 points (10 goals, 50 assists) and skated a team-high 26 minutes, 50 seconds per game. He played 28:02 in Game 1.