BOSTON -- Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference has been suspended for Game 2 of Boston’s playoff series vs. Toronto by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety after an illegal check to the head of Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski in the first period of Wednesday night’s 4-1 victory in Game 1 at TD Garden.
“He lunges toward Grabovski, extending his left arm and shoulder and picking Grabovski’s head as the principal point of contact,” said NHL Director of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan in the suspension video. “Ference cannot initiate a check like that recklessly targets Grabovski’s head, and makes it the principal point of contact.”
The two players were moving in toward impact on a puck in Boston’s defensive zone, and video replays showed Ference coming up high on Grabovski with a raised arm as they slammed into each other. It wasn’t a full chicken wing elbow like the one tossed by New Jersey defensemen Anton Volchenkov at Brad Marchand’s head in the final month of the regular season, but there was certainly contact made by Ference with Grabovski’s head.
A one-game suspension was a fair penalty in this humble hockey writer’s opinion, and is the cost of doing business for a Bruins team that plans to play on the edge throughout their Stanley Cup playoff run.
There was no penalty on the play, and no injury resulting from the collision between Ference and Grabovski. Claude Julien said he had “his own view” on the hit, but wasn’t going to comment for the record before the NHL conducts its own fact-finding mission.
“The league looks after those things,” said Julien. “That job doesn’t belong to me, and I’ll leave it at that.”
Ference also has a prior history with a three-game suspension for boarding Ryan McDonagh, and a hit on Jeff Halpern during the 2011 Stanley Cup run that first placed the Bruins defensemen on the league’s radar. The Bruins defenseman was deemed a repeat offender in the suspension video based on last year’s suspension, the first of his 13-year NHL career.
Ference’s teammates didn’t know about the suspension on Thursday morning, but will have to get by without him for Saturday night’s Game 2 against the Maple Leafs.
“We haven’t had a chance to watch, or anything like that. I was on the bench and didn’t see it,” said Patrice Bergeron. “You don’t want to see [a teammate possibly get suspended], but we’re also a deep team with players ready to step up. It’s about doing the job with the players that are on the ice.”
The Ference suspension means it’s likely 19-year-old Dougie Hamilton will enter the Bruins lineup, and the Bruins will be forced to break up the Zdeno Chara/Dennis Seidenberg top D-pairing.