Flyers Vs. Penguins, ECQF 2012: Asham suspended Four Games; Neal suspended one
On Tuesday, Arron Asham and James Neal had their hearings with NHL disciplinarian, Brendan Shanahan.
With Craig Adams already officially suspended for Game 4 due to his instigator penalty in the final five minutes of Game 3 (a costly mistake which also cost Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma $10,000), many expected Asham and Neal to join Adams in the press box.
Late Tuesday night it became official that they will.
After waiting all day, Shanahan announced that Asham was suspended four games (in effect for the rest of round one) and Neal was suspended for one game (Game 4).
Asham was called into question for his match penalty on Sunday when he cross-checked Flyers forward Brayden Schenn high, then proceeded to hit him in the back of the head after he had fallen to the ice in the first period.
Shanahan requested that Asham meet him for an in-person hearing, which opened him up to the possibility of a suspension of six-games or more (Asham declined the invitation to attend, instead opting to have the hearing over conference call).
He decided not to use the full extent of his power, but still gave Asham the largest suspension to this point in what has been a suspension heavy-first round.
The fact that Schenn was not injured and that Asham had never been fined or suspended in the past were factors in the decision to sit him four games.
In Neal’s case, he had two separate phone-hearings on Tuesday morning for two plays in the third period.
The first play was a hit on Sean Couturier in the neutral zone where Neal clearly targeted the head and left his feet. Not to mention that Couturier wasn’t looking and didn’t have possession of the puck.
Neal 'aserted' after the game that he was trying to brace himself and was not trying to launch himself into Couturier, which Shanahan stated that he believed.
Ultimately, the league overlooked the play but decided to suspend Neal one game for what he did 42 seconds later. Neal once again targeted the head, this time of superstar forward Claude Giroux. Giroux was visibly dazed after the play and fell to the ice. Neal was penalized on the play with a game misconduct.
Shanahan explained that this was the play that earned Neal his one game suspension and was due to his previous history and the league having to warn him twice this season, in addition to trageting the head of Giroux.
The loss of Neal could prove catastrophic to the Penguins.
He is tied with Sidney Crosby for the team-lead in points (five) and was a presence in Sunday's Game 3 for more than his questionable plays (he registered two goals and an assist). The move may be the final nail in their season.
With Adams, Asham and Neal all out of the lineup for game 4, it is expected that the Penguins will dress another controverisal figure in the form of centerman, Joe Vitale.
Vitale had two separate incidents in the second-to-last game of the season where he hit Nicklas Grossmann with a knee-to-knee hit and then went on to hit Daniel Briere with a violent check in the final minute of the blow-out game.
Forwards Eric Tangradi and Dustin Jeffrey have also been speculated as potential fill-ins.
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