Suspend him or not: Alex Ovechkin check to the head on Niklas Hjalmarsson

For the second straight game, Alex Ovechkin has thrown a hit that falls into the grey area of a suspendable offense. This time, Ovechkin caught Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson with a high hit, resulting in an illegal check to the head penalty.
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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

For the second straight game, Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin threw what can best be described as a questionable hit.

On Tuesday night, during the Capitals game against the Calgary Flames, Ovechkin caught Curtis Glencross with a high hit. A scrum ensued, everything was sorted out, and what came of it was a roughing call to Glencross.

Friday night, in the Capitals first game since the hit on Glencross, Ovechkin caught Chicago Blackhawks' defenseman Niklas Hjlamarsson with another hit in the upper chest and head region. This time, it was whistled by the referees as an illegal check to the head:

Ovechkin, who has faced supplemental discipline before, has always played his game on a fine edge. It's part of what makes him such an exciting player. He can shoot, he can puck handle, and, when the time is right, he can deliver a devastating check. What comes along with that, however, is that these hits can sometimes ride the border of legality.

The case for suspending Ovechkin: If the Department of Player Safety looks at this, it will be his second such hit in as many games. Ovechkin may need a deterrent from throwing these type of checks, and a suspension -- however long -- may provide that. He plays on an edge, and reining him in on hits like this may be warranted. In addition, referees on the ice determined that it was an illegal check.

The case against suspending Ovechkin: There was no injury on the play and, in fact, Hjlamarsson was involved in the ensuing scrum, face-washing Ovechkin as soon as the whistle had gone. Hjalmarsson continued to play throughout the night, appeared fine, and likely will not miss any time.

If there has been a hit this season that is perfectly in the grey area, this may be it. Ovechkin delivered a solid check, but it didn't appear to be malicious and Hjalmarsson was, thankfully, all right to continue playing. While the Department of Player Safety may take a look at this, it's hard to tell whether or not it's a suspendable offense.



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