Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski absolutely leveled Buffalo Sabres captain Brian Gionta with an open ice hit on Sunday night, but he could face supplemental discipline. Bartkowski was assessed a major penalty for interference and given a game misconduct.
The hit occurred in the final six minutes of the first period of the Bruins tilt with the Sabres on Sunday night, and the impact was enough to send Gionta literally spiraling through the air:
Bartkowski received some immediate comeuppance in the form of a fight with Marcus Foligno, but he was also slapped with a major penalty for interference and a game misconduct.
The case for suspending Bartkowski: As of the end of the first period, Gionta hasn’t returned, and if there is a resulting injury it’s likely the 26-year-old rearguard is at least going to get a call. The major penalty won’t help his case, but neither will the fact that the hit simply looks violent.
The case against suspending Bartkowski: What may help Bartkowski here, though, is the fact he has no suspension or discipline history. Losing almost an entire game – including the remainder of the first period, the Bruins will be without him for 45 minutes tonight – may work as time served and there’s the possibility he’ll simply receive a fine for the hit.
Simply based on optics, one would think the NHL might look at suspending Bartkowski, even if it is just a single-game ban. If Gionta were to have received the pass, it wouldn’t have been interference, but it’s still a risky hit to make and the principle point of contact is extremely difficult to determine.