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Thursday, April 21, 2011
Jarkko Ruutu banned 1 game

By Dan Arritt
ESPNLosAngeles.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The NHL has suspended Anaheim Ducks forward Jarkko Ruutu for one game following his hit Wednesday night on Nashville Predators forward Martin Erat in Game 4 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series in Nashville.

Erat, the team's second-leading scorer during the regular season with 17 goals and 33 assists, suffered an upper-body injury and did not return to the game or accompany the team to Anaheim for Game 5 on Friday night at Honda Center.

Ruutu, a healthy scratch for Games 2 and 3, is the second Ducks player to be suspended in the best-of-seven series as a result of dangerous play. Bobby Ryan was suspended for Games 3 and 4 in Nashville after stomping on the skate of Nashville defenseman Jonathon Blum late in Game 2, a 5-3 victory by the Ducks in Anaheim.

Erat was checked by Ruutu after he released a pass four minutes into the second period of the 6-3 victory by the Ducks, which evened the series, 2-2. He lay on the ice for a few minutes before skating slowly to the locker room. No penalties were originally signaled but Ruutu ended up serving two minutes for interference.

Before the suspension was announced, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle expressed surprise a disciplinary hearing was even scheduled.

"To me, it's absurd that's there's even mention of a hearing when a guy has a shoulder-on-shoulder body check as the player passes the puck," he said. "They're saying that was so many tenths of a second after they allow. This was two-tenths, or three-tenths of a second past the allowable time. It's kind of mind boggling."

Ruutu, who was acquired from the Senators in February for a sixth-round draft pick this year, has a reputation for rough play.

As a member of the Ottawa Senators, he was suspended two games in November 2008 for elbowing Maxim Lapierre in the head during a game against the Canadiens. In January of that season, Ruutu was suspended two games for allegedly biting the gloved thumb of Buffalo enforcer Andrew Peters.

Ruutu denied the biting accusation, claiming Peters put his finger in Ruutu's mouth while gouging his eye.

Before the Predators flew to Southern California on Thursday, Nashville coach Barry Trotz criticized the timing of the hit during a post-practice interview session. His comments came a couple days after Ducks general manager Bob Murray accused the Predators of diving in an effort to get penalties called against Anaheim. "It was a late hit," Trotz said. "The Ducks are whining and complaining that they're the ones being targeted."

Trotz then compared the loss of Erat to Ruutu, who played just 10 shifts in Game 4 for 5:41 of ice time.

"Ruutu doesn't even dress," Trotz said. "He's a five-minute player for them, and we lose a top player."

Asked if any of Anaheim's top players should be more aware of any payback tactics in Game 5, Carlyle said it appeared the Predators already tried.

"You don't think Jordin Tootoo's crosscheck to the head of Toni Lydman in the last minute of the hockey game shouldn't draw some attention?" Carlyle said.

Tootoo earned two minutes for roughing Lydman and later a 10-minute game misconduct. Ducks forward Corey Perry said it's important the Ducks focus on the task at hand and not potential retaliation from the Predators.

"You've got to be ready at any hockey game," he said. "Just because one hit happened doesn't mean something else could happen. We have to be ready to play tomorrow night and keep our cool."

Dan Arritt cover the Anaheim Ducks for ESPNLosAngeles.com.