Supplementary discipline has become the story of the the playoffs. In Detroit last night, the Red Wings and Predators were playing in a crucial Game 4 when word spread that former Red Wings and current Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa had left on a stretcher to go to the hospital. In the press box, attention momentarily turned from the ice to computer screens loading replays of the inexcusable dirty hit from Raffi Torres.
Then the debate started. Just how many games did this hit deserve? In a rarity, there was consensus, and it became clear that Torres couldn't be suspended long enough. Repeat offender. Targeting the head. Serious injury. It's all there, and he is currently suspended indefinitely by the league.
As this was happening, there was still a delay in the James Neal sentencing. And if the short history of these playoffs is any indication, it won't be long until another incident raises the debate again.
"Penalties, suspensions, non-penalties and non-suspensions is not a perfect world," said Predators GM David Poile when we spoke earlier this week. "To think you're going to please everyone is not realistic. This is a work in progress. It's almost a contradiction when we say that we're trying to make the game as safe as possible yet keep the physicality. That's a hard balance."
Maybe it's an impossible balance. But there's no doubt that the league's supplementary discipline decisions have tipped the balance in different series. Here's a look at decisions by Brendan Shanahan and the impact they have had on each series:
The suspension: Asham was suspended four games.
The series impact: This is a severe punishment for Asham, especially since his stick fell just short of hitting Schenn in the head. It was the additional punch that cost him, and now the Penguins will have to attempt to win four consecutive games without Asham. This is a physical series, and Asham's presence might have helped keep the Flyers honest, but the reality is he hasn't played more than 5:58 in any of the first three games of this series. The Penguins' comeback isn't going to hinge on whether or not he's in the lineup.
To read Craig's review of the impact of each of the playoff suspension decisions, you must be an ESPN Insider.