After years of avoiding the law, Niklas Kronwall finally got nabbed.
It's the first time in Kronwall's 11 NHL seasons he has been punished for a hit.
It's really, really surreal that after all this time watching him repeatedly launch himself into predatory, careless hits -- often with his trademark turning-his-back-into-the-hit that protects him but maximizes potential damage on his victim -- the NHL finally decided to punish him this time. You wonder if he's paying for an accumulation of other dangerous but unpunished hits during these playoffs.
In that context, I almost* feel bad for the Wings and their fans. They'd never been told he was a naughty boy before.
*only almost though
It will be interesting to see how this plays out for Game 7 between the Red Wings and Lightning. As Travis Yost of TSN examined it:
What I think will be most curious is to see if Kronwall's absence has an effect on the way Jon Cooper line-matches against the Red Wings with last change. Cooper and Babcock have been in a bit of a chess match on this front through the first six games of the series. Cooper, for example, has tried to get the Steven Stamkos line out against Detroit's second and third pairings (DeKeyser/Quincey; Zidlicky/Smith). When Babcock has had last change, he's given the Kronwall pairing the Steven Stamkos assignment, preparing some of the easier assignments for his second and third-pairings.
As always with these things, there is a potential trickle-down effect. The Wings will also be without Marek Zidlicky, reportedly for concussion symptoms that may have also stemmed from receiving a controversial hit.
Tonight's game begins at 7:30 p.m. EDT. It's televised on NBCSN, CBC and TVA Sports 2, plus the local outlets in each market. Consider this your open thread for playoff watching, and perhaps some wound licking. (Too soon? Too soon.)