With less than 24 hours before the San Jose Sharks are back on the ice to take on the Arizona Coyotes, the team could be without Erik Karlsson. The defenseman will have a hearing with the Department of Player Safety (DPS) tomorrow.
Early in the second period of tonight's game against the Los Angeles Kings, Karlsson delivered a hit to Austin Wagner which resulted in the forward leaving with an upper-body injury. While there’s not official report on Wagner’s status, he was shaky getting to the bench after the hit and he probably has a concussion.
The principal point of contact for the hit appears to be the shoulder as one angle will show, but when Karlsson finishes, his shoulder also makes contact with Wagner’s head.
Erik Karlsson's hit on Austin Wagner..... pic.twitter.com/cIRfPxgHJp— Robert Söderlind (@HockeyWebCast) December 22, 2018
The hit did not receive a minor or major penalty during the game. Also, none of the Kings players aggressively looked for retaliation and did not try to engage Karlsson in a fight as the game continued.
During ensuing the intermission, NBC Sports Analyst Mike Johnson reviewed the play.
“He comes across and he catches Austin Wagner,” said Johnson. “In real time it looks like it’s okay. It’s not a charge, it’s not an elbow, but Karlsson gets a lot of arm and a lot of head and not enough of the body of Austin Wagner. He goes through at that angle and the responsibility lies with the hitter, Karlsson, not the hittee, Wagner. It’s very difficult to time that correctly.
“Clearly Wagner was injured, Karlsson was concerned,” continued Johnson. “But when you come at a guy at that angle, it’s hard to get enough body and not the head. He got just a little bit of the arm and way too much head. Despite his relatively innocent history in the NHL, I do believe that he will be suspended for this and I think he should. Probably a game or two because that’s just a hit you cannot make anymore.”
Working in Karlsson’s favor is the fact that he has a clean record with no suspensions for questionable hits. His only blemish in the NHL is a fine he received in 2012 for slashing. Having no priors could help, but with the inconsistency of the department, it’s unclear what Karlsson’s punishment will be.
The DPS will be meeting in the morning, presumably to make a decision before the Sharks’ game with the Coyotes tomorrow evening at 5 p.m.