Already down 2-0 in their best-of-seven playoffs series, the Chicago Blackhawks will be without one of their best defensemen for the next three games
Brent Seabrook was suspended for three games Sunday following his vicious hit late in Game 2 the day before on Blues captain David Backes.
Seabrook appeared to target Backes' head with his right shoulder, driving Backes' head into the glass with 4 minutes, 51 seconds remaining in regulation. The hit left Backes dazed and he did not return.
Asked about Backes' condition Sunday following the Blues' optional workout, coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters "All I know is he's upright, and that's about it right now. We don't have any further information and probably won't have until late tomorrow...I know one thing, he couldn't play today."
Seabrook received a five-minute major penalty for charging and a game misconduct.
The explanation video supplied Sunday by the NHL's Department of Player Safety said the suspension was for "charging and interference."
"As Backes continues on his path toward the corner, well away from the puck and past the time frame in which he is eligible to be checked, Seabrook drives up and into Backes, delivering a blow with his right shoulder that causes Backes to slam violently into the glass and boards. This is both interference and charging," the NHL spokesman said.
The spokesman said Keith may not have known whether Backes had the puck, but that did not matter.
"The onus still is on Seabrook to insure that he does not hit an ineligible opponent... Seabrook skates some distance before making this hit, so he has time to avoid this check completely. Instead, he skates into the hit and drives up with his right shoulder, delivering a violent blow that causes the defenseless Backes to crash dangerously into the boards."
Seabrook has no previous history of fines or suspensions during his nine-year career.
One video from the play apparently picks up someone, perhaps an unidentified player, taunting Backes by saying "wakey wakey."
Blues winger Ryan Reaves was asked about that replay Sunday by reporters.
"To me it looked a little gutless from where I was standing, and the replays I've seen," Reaves said. "I saw them talking to him. It makes it a little more gutless. I don't think there's any need for that. (Backes) doesn't even know where he really is.
"I think if they want to start getting into that battle, we can play the same way. We'll see where it takes us."
On Saturday and again Sunday, Hitchcock also expressed his displeasure over a knee on knee hit by Chicago's Bryan Bickell on Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka.
Sobotka went down hard in the third period of Game 2 and got medical attention from trainer Ray Barile. Sobotka later returned and played in the game.
When asked about Sobotka's status for Game 4 Monday in Chicago, Hitchcock told reporters "he's average right now."
"There was a similar hit on (Blues defenseman Alex) Pietrangelo the first period that was really concerning by the same player (Bickell)," Hitchcock said. "When you're leg-whipping people it's a concern because it's career-ending.
"That's ACL, career-ending. That's a big concern for me, the safety of the players. That part bothers me more than the hit on David, a hit that went awry. The hit on Sobotka was a continuation of what happened to Petro in the first period."