The Chicago Blackhawks lost Game 3 of their Western Conference Final series with the Los Angeles Kings, and on the eve of Game 4, they've suffered another big loss: they'll be without the services of star defenceman Duncan Keith. The Blackhawks' blueliner has been suspended one game for his slash to the face of Jeff Carter.
Here's Brendan Shanahan with a straightforward explanation of where Keith went wrong. (Spoiler: it has something to do with slashing an opponent in the face.)
"This is more serious than a case of a player simply having to be responsible for his stick," Shanahan explains. "It is not an accidental high stick, nor is it a defensive high stick to an opponent. This is a retaliatory high stick to an opponent that causes an injury."
"Although Keith asserts that he did not intend to hit Carter in the face or hit him with such force, he does admit to intentionally swinging his stick at Carter as Carter is skating away from him."
That pretty much sums it up right there. High-sticking a guy in retaliation is a no-no, and when the victim of the high-stick goes in for 20 facial stitches and loses teeth as a result, you're probably going to be sitting out a night, even if that's not the damage you intended to inflict.
For those of you arguing that Keith's slash and Carter's slash were comparable, Shanahan is (rightly) not buying it. Heck, as he takes a moment to point out, he's not even convinced that Carter hit anything beyond the glove Keith was reaching down to retrieve. Beyond that, so what if he did?
"It should also be noted that even if Carter did indeed chop down on Keith's hand, that still does not justify the extent of Keith's actions," he says.
That pretty much covers it. Keith may not have meant to do exactly what he wound up doing, but a good way to avoid slashing a guy in the face and looking like the badguy for it is by keeping the reckless, retaliatory, waist-level, one-handed slashes to a minimum.
Frankly, Keith's lucky this is only one game. The way Shanahan was describing it, I was bracing myself for a longer suspension, and when you take Keith's repeat offender status and the status of Carter's face into consideration, the argument could have been made.
Either way, this is a big win for the Kings, who have to be feeling even better about their chances to tie this series up on Thursday.