In case you missed it last night, Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson missed his final shift of the night in his team’s huge 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 of their second round Stanley Cup Playoffs series.
Late in the third period with the Caps holding a 5-3 advantage, Carlson absorbed what head coach Barry Trotz described as an “unsuspecting, high hit” from Penguins forward Jake Guentzel.
Carlson, who was following a chip in along the boards behind the Capitals’ net, was preparing himself to slap the puck around the boards and out of the defensive zone when a streaking Guentzel came flying down the wing and finished a hard check up high on Carlson. Here’s the play:
It’s clear that the hit is up high and that the unsuspecting Carlson gets rocked, but who’s to blame on this hit? Carlson makes no attempt to protect himself, despite clearly trying to play the puck in a dangers spot. I mean… you gotta keep your head up. Guentzel explodes through the hit, but he doesn’t extend an elbow and doesn’t appear to target Carlson’s head… tough call.
After the game, coach Trotz was NOT happy saying, “John took a high hit. He was unsuspecting, with about a minute left. He's being evaluated right now," he said, according to ESPN's Greg Wyshynski. "I know the standard has been set, so I'm going to leave it up the league. It was a head shot in my opinion."
Trotz calls late game hit on John Carlson an “unexpected high hit” and that Carlson is being evaluated. Said “the standard has been set” and expects the NHL to look at play.
For what it’s worth Guentzel was not penalized on the play and Carlson did manage to make it off the ice under his own power. Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik would try to initiate some retribution with Guentzel the following shift, but the youngster wasn’t having any of it.
Officially, Carlson’s status is under review by team medical doctors before a determination can be made on whether or not he'll be healthy enough to play in Game 6. What's your call? Suspension worthy?