Flyers

Gostisbehere receives suspension for crosscheck on ex-teammate

Flyers

Shayne Gostisbehere on Wednesday was suspended two games by the NHL Department of Player Safety for boarding Mark Friedman in the third period of the Flyers' 7-3 loss to the Penguins.

In Tuesday night's game at the Wells Fargo Center, Gostisbehere crosschecked Friedman in the back after the former Flyer deposited an empty-net goal. As a result, Friedman went tumbling into the boards and a mini melee ensued between both clubs.

Gostisbehere had no prior history of being suspended or fined. Along with missing two of the Flyers' final three games, he will forfeit $77,586.20, which goes to the players' emergency assistance fund.

Here were the major points in the review from the NHL Department of Player Safety:

It is important to note that this is not a defensive play in which Gostisbehere is attempting to reach the puck carrier to prevent a goal from being scored. It is only after the empty-net goal is apparent that Gostisbehere adjusts his skating path, takes a hard stride to reach Friedman and begins to initiate this contact. And it is significantly after the puck enters the net, well past the time where Friedman should reasonably expect and prepare for contact, that the shove is delivered. Further, the shove is delivered at an extremely dangerous distance from the boards while both players are traveling with speed. This is an intentional shove delivered at speed to the back of a player who is not adequately positioned to protect himself, putting him dangerously into the end boards.

Friedman came up in the Flyers' system after being selected by the club during the third round of the 2014 draft. He played four games with the Flyers this season before Penguins general manager Ron Hextall claimed him off waivers in February. Hextall was GM of the Flyers when they drafted Friedman. The 25-year-old defenseman's last game with the Flyers was the NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe matchup in which Friedman served as a right winger because the team was severely shorthanded.

"Just going to play my game and that's me being a little feisty out there, almost like a little rat," Friedman said before the Lake Tahoe game, "so we'll see if I can get under some guys' skin."

 

All four of Friedman's games with the Penguins so far have come against the Flyers and those meetings have not lacked animosity. Going back to his time with the Flyers' AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, Friedman has been known as a player to draw penalties by utilizing strategy and, yes, more so agitation.

In his Penguins debut on March 2, he drew a roughing penalty late in the third period by irritating Michael Raffl. Two days later, Friedman and Nolan Patrick clashed in numerous physical sequences. Friedman suffered a concussion on the final incident and was out until he returned to the Penguins' lineup for the most recent two-game set in Philadelphia. Before taking Gostisbehere's crosscheck to the back, Friedman dropped the gloves with Joel Farabee during the second period.

It's not overly surprising Gostisbehere's play reached punitive action from the league. The crosscheck was late, avoidable and it sent Friedman into the boards. But the suspension does come in the wake of the highly publicized and scrutinized Tom Wilson drama. On Tuesday, the Capitals forward was fined but not suspended for his actions in a scrum against the Rangers, leaving New York winger Artemi Panarin injured.

More: 'I completely disagree with it,' Gostisbehere says of suspension

Stemming from 2018-19, it's understandable if the Flyers have been left frustrated or perplexed by the NHL Department of Player Safety. Last season, head coach Alain Vigneault was mystified by a three-game suspension given to Farabee for interference. Two seasons ago, before Vigneault's arrival, Jakub Voracek received a two-game suspension for interference as Johnny Boychuk pursued the Flyers' forward who had the puck.

That same season, the Flyers weren't thrilled when Evgeni Malkin was given only one game for swinging his stick near Raffl's head or when Kurtis Gabriel was banned one game for boarding Patrick.

This season, the Flyers have underachieved and were eliminated from playoff contention last week. Gostisbehere will miss 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).

More: Flyers' most anticipated NHL debut this season has arrived

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