Canucks’ Carson Soucy suspended 1 game for cross-checking Connor McDavid

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The judgement of the NHL’s department of player safety has been rendered, and Vancouver Canucks defenseman Carson Soucy will be suspended for one game of the club’s second-round series against the Edmonton Oilers for an incident that occurred following the conclusion of Game 3.

After time had expired, Soucy got into a shoving match with Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid. The two players exchanged some shoves and a hard McDavid slash to Soucy’s shin pad, but Soucy raised his stick and in the league’s judgement, “draws the stick back and delivers a forceful, high, two-handed cross check to McDavid that makes direct contact with McDavid’s head.”

The result of that play was a postgame penalty assessed to Soucy, and ultimately a one-game suspension.

Soucy isn’t the only Canucks player to face supplemental discipline for their role in the postgame fracas. Canucks defender Nikita Zadorov was also fined $5,000 by the league — the maximum amount allowable per the term of the NHL/NHLPA collective bargaining agreement — for a cross-check to McDavid’s back, which arguably caused Soucy’s chest-level cross-check to connect with McDavid’s head.

“It is important to note that McDavid is cross checked in the back by defenseman Nikita Zadorov as Soucy delivers his cross check …” noted the NHL department of player safety in the video explaining the decision. “And we acknowledge Soucy’s argument that the cross-check by Zadorov is forceful enough to cause a change in McDavid’s position, and may contribute to Soucy’s cross check landing to the head.

“This doesn’t change the fact,” the video goes on to note, “that Soucy’s actions merit supplement discipline. This play happens well after the game has ended. And it is not a hockey play.”

In just about every suspension-worthy cross-checking incident in the NHL across the last three seasons, contact with the head or face — or with an adjacent area endangering the head or face of an opponent — has been a common denominator. This is just the latest example.

Discussing the incident following Vancouver’s optional practice on Monday, Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet noted at length that there was an additional cross-check in the fracas, one levied by Oilers winger Zach Hyman, who caught Zadorov up high in apparent retaliation. While Zadorov has been fined and Soucy suspended for one game, there is no indication that there is any additional supplemental discipline coming from this postgame melee.

Who replaces Soucy in Game 4?

In Soucy’s absence, the Canucks are likely to turn to seventh defenseman Noah Juulsen.

“We’re lucky we have Juulsen technically as our seventh D right now,” Tocchet said following practice on Monday. “He’s been a big contributor all year.”

Juulsen appeared in a career high 54 games for Vancouver this season, and dressed in relief of Tyler Myers during Vancouver’s first-round series against the Nashville Predators logging roughly 11 and a half minutes of ice time.

While Juulsen is a capable defender, and arguably and everyday caliber NHL blueliner, Soucy’s presence has been immense for Vancouver in this series. Along with Tyler Myers, Soucy has made up half of Vancouver’s first-choice matchup pair against McDavid and the Oilers’ top line, and while the Oilers have dominated those minutes territorially, the Soucy-Myers pair has only surrendered two goals against in roughly 30 minutes of work at five-on-five and Vancouver has scored two goals of their own in those minutes.

How did McDavid and Oilers react?

The Oilers were tight-lipped about what occurred at the end of the game.

When asked if that’s just something that happens in a series, Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch chose his words carefully.

“I don’t think it’s something that just happens,” he said.

McDavid joked that he “feels great” after being on the receiving end of the cross-check.

“It’s a tough game. They’ve got big D-men. They make it hard on you,” McDavid said. “They play a physical brand of hockey. It’s a fun series to be a part of. Two Canadian teams going at it. A lot of passion.

“It’s just part of a heated series.”

Required reading

• Carson Soucy’s cross-check to Connor McDavid’s face was reckless. What will the NHL do?
• How the Canucks, Brock Boeser contained Connor McDavid to win Game 3

(Photo of Carson Soucy and J.T. Miller: Andy Devlin / NHLI via Getty Images)

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