St. Louis Blues forward Ivan Barbashev has been suspended for one game for an illegal check to the head on Boston’s Marcus Johansson in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, the league announced.
Barbashev was not penalized on the play.
Barbashev has three goals, three assists and is plus-1 during the playoffs. Barbashev and the rest of the fourth line have played a key role in keeping Boston’s top line, centered by Patrice Bergeron, in check this series.
The incident occurred in the first period of Game 5, an eventual 2-1 Blues win that put St. Louis on the precipice of its first Stanley Cup in franchise history — with a chance to clinch at home on Sunday.
According to a video explanation released by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, Barbashev delivered a “high, forceful hit that makes Johansson’s head the main point of contact, on a hit where such head contact was avoidable.”
In the video, the DOPS said that Barbashev was suspended because the brunt of the impact of this hit came from Barbashev’s shoulder to the head of Johansson.
“Well, I mean, they’re going to look at things that happen in games, and that’s just part of it,” Blues coach Craig Berube said before the suspension was handed out. “It’s physical hockey, it’s heavy hockey out there both ways and they’re going to look at some stuff once in a while. So that’s the way it goes.”
On Friday, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said that Johansson had “no lingering effects” from the hit that he was aware of.
“I thought it was a high hit,” Cassidy said. “I thought the officials were close enough to call it. They didn’t. I’m not going to go down that road again. If he gets a suspension, that’s up to the NHL. They’ll make that call and we’ll just worry about Game 6.”
For a replacement forward, the Blues will likely turn to Robby Fabbri. The 23-year-old has played in 10 playoff games this spring, but has scored just one goal and zero assists, while averaging less than nine minutes a night.
This is the Blues’ second suspension of the Stanley Cup Final. Oskar Sundqvist missed Game 3 after boarding Matt Gryzelcyk.