Shayne Gostisbehere was succinct and blunt about the NHL Department of Player Safety's decision to suspend him two games for boarding Mark Friedman.
"I completely disagree with it," Gostisbehere said Thursday. "I think they completely missed the mark. That's pretty much it."
Prior to the two-game ban, which came down Wednesday, Gostisbehere had no history of being suspended or fined throughout his six full seasons in the NHL. The 28-year-old defenseman crosschecked Friedman in the back after the former Flyer scored an empty-net goal during the third period of the Flyers' 7-3 loss Tuesday night to the Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center. The shove sent Friedman tumbling into the boards.
The suspension came in the wake of the highly publicized and scrutinized Tom Wilson drama. On Tuesday, the Capitals forward was fined $5,000 and not suspended for his actions in a scrum against the Rangers, which left New York winger Artemi Panarin injured. For Gostisbehere, he'll have to miss two of the Flyers' final three games and has to forfeit $77,586.20, which goes to the players' emergency assistance fund.
The puck-moving Gostisbehere has had a solid rebound from his difficult 2019-20 campaign marred by injury and underperformance. Playing 19:52 minutes per game this season, Gostisbehere leads Flyers defensemen in goals with nine and has 20 points over 40 games. Entering Thursday, his nine goals since Feb. 24 are tied for third most among all NHL defensemen over that span, behind only Jakob Chychrun (14) and Darnell Nurse (10).
"Shayne has had some good moments this year," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Thursday. "He's also had some other moments that have been a little bit more challenging — a little bit like our team, consistency has been an issue. He's done some good things for us. The league has decided to suspend him for the two Washington games, so we'll probably have him back for that last one."
The Flyers have a back-to-back road set against the Capitals over Friday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP). The club comes home for its regular-season finale Monday against the Devils (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
It will end a disappointing 2020-21 campaign for the Flyers, a season in which Gostisbehere has been through the wringer. He missed the team's first six games as he recovered from a bout with COVID-19, he went through three straight healthy scratches and was placed on waivers in March, and is now dealing with his first-ever suspension.
"Starting with COVID, getting waived, healthy scratched, now suspended — it's definitely been a tough one, for sure," Gostisbehere said. "Personally, through all of it, I think I've played pretty well throughout the season. Ups and downs, but I think for myself, take 'em and roll with them. Get knocked down, just get back up. There's not much you can do but just worry about playing hockey."
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