BOSTON — The Bruins might be lacking depth on the blue line for a few games, after defenseman Jeremy Lauzon was ejected from Saturday’s game with the Arizona Coyotes for a check to the head.
Lauzon had just exited the penalty box in the first period when he threw a hit on Derek Stepan at the side boards following a missed shot on the Arizona net. Lauzon caught Stepan’s chin with an extended right arm, after initially hitting him in the chest area. He got a five-minute major match penalty that ejected him from the game.
Stepan appeared shaken up at the time of the hit, but returned to the game for the Coyotes in the second period of play.
A match penalty comes with an automatic suspension, pending a review from the league. That means Lauzon could be facing additional discipline.
The Bruins were already shorthanded on Saturday. Brandon Carlo missed the game to attend to “family matters” at home in Colorado, but should re-join the team in Detroit for Sunday's game versus the Red Wings. John Moore played in place of Carlo in the lineup. Now, the Bruins will have to play the final two periods with five defensemen in the first game of a back-to-back situation.
The hard-hitting 22-year-old Lauzon has two goals in 23 games in his NHL career, and one goal in seven games this season. He doesn’t have any previous run-ins with the NHL's Department of Player Safety in his pro career. While the hit certainly didn't seem vicious or particularly predatory, Lauzon made heavy contact with Stepan's chin on the follow-through to the initial contact. One saving grace for Lauzon is that Stepan wasn't injured on the play, and that the NHL tends to view a first-period ejection as significant when deciding whether or not to pursue supplementary discipline.