Thursday, April 12, 2012 Updated: April 14, 2:32 AM ET
Byron Bitz suspended 2 games
By Dan Arritt ESPNLosAngeles.com
Vancouver Canucks right wing Byron Bitz was suspended two games for a hard hit Wednesday night on Los Angeles Kings left wing Kyle Clifford, the league announced on Thursday.
The incident occurred late in the second period of a 4-2 victory by the Kings in Game 1 of their Western Conference quarterfinal.
Clifford already has been ruled out for Game 2 on Friday, coach Darryl Sutter said after practice on Thursday. He will be replaced in the lineup by either Kevin Westgarth, who has been a healthy scratch the past 25 games, or Andrei Loktionov, who was called up from the AHL earlier this week after Brad Richardson underwent an emergency appendectomy. Loktionov has not played in an NHL game since Feb. 22.
Western Conference Playoffs
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Bitz was given a five-minute major boarding penalty and a game misconduct for the play. Clifford was battling for the puck in the right-wing corner in Vancouver's end when Bitz skated into him, slamming the right side of Clifford's head into the glass.
Clifford appeared dazed as he struggled to get on his skates. He was escorted off the ice by a team trainer, remained on the bench for the remainder of the second period and stayed in the locker room for the third.
Clifford missed two games at the end of last season after taking a hard punch from Ryan Reaves of the St. Louis Blues.
Bitz played just 10 regular-season games with the Canucks this season, recording one goal, three assists and 14 penalty minutes. He battled a sports hernia and related issues for more than a year before making his debut with Vancouver in February.
His value to the team is in stark contrast to another NHL player who faced a disciplinary hearing on Thursday.
Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber was fined $2,500, the maximum allowed under the current collective bargaining agreement, for using his gloved hand to slam the head of Detroit Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg into the glass at the conclusion of a 3-2 victory on Wednesday night by the Predators. The move came after Weber threw a punch that missed the back of Zetterberg's head.
Zetterberg told reporters after practice Thursday that his helmet was cracked as a result of the contact with the glass, but he avoided injury. That played a part in the decision not to suspend Weber, said Brendan Shanahan, the league's chief disciplinarian.
That wasn't the case in last season's opening-round playoff series, when Anaheim Ducks winger Bobby Ryan was suspended for Games 3 and 4 in Nashville after stomping on the skate of defenseman Jonathon Blum. Blum was not injured, no penalty was called and play was never halted.
Anaheim split Games 3 and 4 and went on to lose in six.