What has been the Red Wings' top line, the one carrying them into the playoffs, was dismantled when the NHL suspended Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader for two games for his hit on Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman late in the second period in Saturday’s Game 3.
Abdelkader had been an effective force with the highly skilled duo of center Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. But the suspension forces the Red Wings to look for a quick solution because their season could be over by the time Abdelkader returns.
The Ducks lead the Western Conference quarterfinals, two games to one.
The NHL’s chief disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan announced the decision Sunday night, noting: “As the video shows, Abdelkader skates a considerable distance and elevates to violently check Lydman, making significant head contact.”
He later said the elevation at contact turned “what could have been a hard full-body check into a high violent check with significant contact to the head that caused an injury.”
Though Abdelkader was not a repeat offender, the decision noted Lydman’s injury. The defenseman left the game and did not return.
Lydman did not practice with his teammates Sunday and the Ducks reported he was suffering from migraines and a sore neck. He is not expected to return for Game 4 and defenseman Sheldon Souray, a healthy scratch in Game 3, would take his spot in the lineup.
“Bright lights are bugging him,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said of Lydman. “I don’t know when that’s not going to be there. If we’re going minute by minute and day by day, tomorrow is very questionable for him.”
The Ducks declined comment on the suspension Sunday night and said they would address it Monday. But after practice and hours before the decision, the Ducks’ Teemu Selanne carefully thought about the incident and answered a couple of questions.
“Let's put it this way: I think [those] kind of hits are totally unnecessary,” Selanne said. “It's interesting to see what Shanny's going to do. He played here too. I think everybody is following close. It's a tough job too.
“There's always somebody who is going to be happy and somebody who is not happy.”