In his latest attempt to make an impact and remain in the Philadelphia Flyers lineup, Harry Zolnierczyk has knocked Ottawa Senators defenseman Mike Lundin out of Saturday's game. Will he be suspended for the hit?
Harry Z was given a major penalty for charging and a game misconduct for leaving his feet and delivering this blow to Lundin. There wasn't contact with the head, and to me, the debate revolves around when Zolnierczyk left his feet. I'd have to imagine this will be a suspension, but we'll have to see exactly how long Brendan Shanahan bans him for.
Zolnierczyk has been pretty reckless since being called up by the Flyers a few weeks back. When he's made his way into the lineup, he's taken a number of silly penalties and has laid a number of meaningless hits. Peter Laviolette says he likes the "energy" Harry Zolnierczyk brings to the lineup, but it's hard to argue that that energy doesn't hurt the team more than it helps when he's doing things like this.
A suspension could really hurt Zolnierczyk's chances of remaining in the lineup or even the NHL this season. If he's banned for two or three games, Mike Knuble will almost certainly get that spot in the lineup and Zolnierczyk will remain a scratch while serving his ban.
But there's also a chance that the Flyers could opt to keep Knuble in the press box and call up a player from the Phantoms to fill in the fourth line role. (Given the Gagne trade and Knuble's banishment to healthy scratch land, it's pretty clear that Laviolette and Paul Holmgren aren't happy with Knuble's game.)
That would likely lead to a demotion for Zolnierczyk, and that would mean the suspension would never be served, since he has to be on the NHL roster for those games to count against his ban. That hurts his chances of being called back up, too, in the event of future injury, since it doesn't make sense to call somebody up when they have two games still to kill on a suspension.
Of course, we're just thinking out loud here. We'll have to see a) if there is a suspension b) how many games that suspension will last and c) what the Flyers opt to do with their lineup once the punishment comes down from the league. Regardless, though, it's a silly hit from Zolnierczyk, and if he gets back into the Flyers lineup as a regular player when all is said and done, he needs to reel himself in a bit.