Philadelphia Flyers forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was given a major penalty and a game misconduct for boarding from behind during Monday night’s game, when he sent Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov flying into the boards seemingly headfirst.
Now, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety – who announced they would hold a hearing with the skater earlier on Tuesday – have delivered their verdict; the hit will see Bellemare suspended for one game, which could end his playoffs if the Capitals win game four.
Per the league, Bellemare was given a one game suspension on top of the game misconduct due to his refusal to minimize the danger of the hit, although the severity of the suspension was lessened because Orlov remained in the game (and was seen skating at practice on Tuesday) and Bellemare himself has no history of suspension.
The issue, per the Department of Player Safety’s instructional video, is that Bellemare sees nothing but Orlov’s numbers from the time he hits the top of the faceoff circle heading towards the boards. As pointed out, the severity of the hit was magnified by a lost edge on Orlov’s part, but the play remained illegal nonetheless; in order for the check to have been clean, Bellemare would have needed to approach Orlov from a different angle. If he was unable to do that, he should have avoided the hit altogether, per the explanation.
The Capitals are currently up 3-0 on the Flyers in their best of seven series in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, so if Washington wins the fourth game, Bellemare will have seen his postseason end prematurely due to the suspension. It will take a win from Philadelphia on Wednesday for the forward to see another game before the start of the 2016-17 season.