The Colorado Avalanche are just a few games removed from the four-game suspension delivered to captain Gabriel Landeskog, who missed time as a repeat suspension offender at the start of the month.
Now, they’ve lost yet another key player - this time for only two games, but still a disappointment.
It was announced on Sunday evening that defenseman Erik Johnson will miss two games for boarding Tampa Bay Lightning forward Vladislav Namestnikov, who luckily didn’t leave the game with injury.
Namestnikov had carried the puck up the left side of the ice, with Johnson on the backcheck directly behind him after he received a pass from Nikita Kucherov.
Once inside the slot, Namestnikov fires the puck at Jonathan Bernier - and once the puck hits Bernier’s pads, Johnson aggressively cross-checks him from behind, sending him sprawling into the boards at full speed.
The Lightning took offense to the hit, as did the officials - who delivered an in-game penalty, although that punishment is now being upped by a good bit.
Johnson certainly isn’t known for these kinds of plays, which likely factored into just a two-game ban for his troubles. Given the severity of the hit, though, and the fact that Johnson’s stick doesn’t come up to hit Namestnikov in the back until the puck is off of the forward’s stick, it’s not altogether surprising to see him get multiple games, even as a relatively clean player.
This will leave the Avalanche without their top defenseman for their game tomorrow against the Pittsburgh Penguins, then against the Los Angeles Kings on the 21st before he returns to the lineup for a home-and-away series against the Arizona Coyotes.