The decision is in, and the fourth suspension of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs has been handed out. Nashville Predators forward Ryan Hartman has received a one-game suspension for his illegal check to the head of Colorado Avalanche forward Carl Soderberg. As the accompanying video from the Department of Player Safety explains:
It is important to note that Soderberg does not materially change the position of his head just prior to, or simultaneously with contact in a way that contributes to the head being the main point of contact. If Hartman wishes to deliver this hit, he must hit squarely through Soderberg’s core with a full body check.
Instead, Hartman takes a poor angle of approach that picks Soderberg’s head and makes it a main point of contact, and delivers the hit with substantial force.
Hartman has not previously been suspended in the NHL, only fined earlier this season for a slashing incident. He will now have to sit out Game 5 as the Predators look to eliminate the Avalanche from their first-round matchup.
Adding Hartman’s suspension to ones already given out to Drew Doughty, Nazem Kadri and Josh Morrissey this postseason, the league has already easily exceeded the two playoff games served last year by suspended players. Nick Ritchie was forced to sit out Game 1 of the Anaheim Ducks first-round series after being suspended in the second last game of the season, and Matt Calvert earned a one-game ban in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ series for cross-checking.
Like with Morrissey, Hartman could miss out on clinching the series for the Predators as they currently sit up three games to one over the Avalanche. If Colorado can win and stay alive, Hartman is eligible to return for Game 6, though his future actions will be looked at with even more scrutiny.