The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has suspended St. Louis Blues’ forward Ivan Barbashev for one game. Barbashev would hit Boston Bruins’ forward Marcus Johansson in the head in the first period of Game 5 between the two clubs. Interestingly enough, there would be no penalty called on this play despite a referee standing within 15 feet of the hit.
This is Barbashev’s first career suspension and it comes with the Bruins just one game away from claiming their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. The Blues hold a 3-2 series lead heading back to St. Louis and will look to close things out against the Bruins on Sunday.
The 23-year-old Barbashev has scored three goals and six points in 24 games with the Blues so far this postseason. He’d also set career-highs in games-played (80), goals (14), assists (12) and points (26) during the regular season.
This is the second suspension coming against the Blues this series as Oskar Sundqvist was previously suspended one game for checking Bruins’ defender Matt Grzelcyk’s head into the end-glass in Game 2, a play that has kept Grzelcyk out of action with a concussion since.
Below is the video released by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety detailing the hit and the suspension. Following the video will be a full transcript of the video for those who are unable to watch the video but are still interested in the explanation.
Transcript of Barbashev Suspension Video
Thursday night in Boston, Blues’ forward Ivan Barbashev delivered an illegal check to the head of Bruins’ forward Marcus Johansson. As the video shows, off a face-off win in the Blue’ end, Barbashev gains possession of the puck in the corner and quickly chips it up the wall. Johansson intercepts the puck and moves down the wall on the attack as Barbashev comes off his man to close the gap.
As Johansson released a shot on goal, Barbashev delivers a high, forceful hit that makes Johansson’s head the main point of contact on a hit where such head contact was avoidable. This is an illegal check to the head.
It is important to note that the head is the main point of contact on this play. While we agree that Barbashev’s arm does make contact with the left arm of Johansson, the brunt of the impact of this hit is delivered by Barbashev’s shoulder directly into the head of Johansson.
It is also important to note that the head contact on this play is avoidable. While Johansson is in the process of shooting the puck, he does not materially change the position of his head or body just prior to contact in a way that significantly contributes to the head being the main point of contact.
If Barbashev wishes to deliver this check, he must take an angle of approach that hits through Johansson’s near shoulder or core, rather than an angle that picks Johansson’s head with his shoulder.
To summarize, this is an illegal check to the head. Barbashev has been neither fined nor suspended previously in his 163 game NHL career. The Department of Player Safety has suspended Ivan Barbashev for one playoff game.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for seven years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.