Shanahan's pivotal postseason role 

April, 17, 2012

At the end of the Boston Bruins' win over the Washington Capitals last night, Washington center Nicklas Backstrom took exception to Rich Peverley tripping his captain. He retaliated with a cross check to Peverley's head, earning a match penalty. He now faces an automatic suspension that could be rescinded by the league.

"I think the league will review it and rescind it," Capitals coach Dale Hunter said during his postgame news conference. "It was not that bad."

It was just the latest incident in an NHL postseason that is evolving into one of the most physical and dangerous in recent memory. All in a season in which so much focus was made off the ice by the players, general managers and the league to improve safety and cut down on concussions.

[+] EnlargeBrendan Shanahan
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesBrendan Shanahan, the NHL's chief disciplinarian, has his hands full this postseason.