Carl Hagelin, Matt Carkner draw bans
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Rangers rookie left winger Carl Hagelin was suspended three games by the NHL for hitting Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson up high with an elbow in Game 2 on Saturday night.
NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan called the hit, which occurred at 10:28 of the second period during the Senators' 3-2 overtime victory over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, "a reckless strike to the side of Alfredsson's head."
Hagelin texted Alfredsson after the game and apologized for the hit.
Strang: Harsh punishment for Rangers
The Rangers may be without Carl Hagelin -- a major catalyst on their top line -- for the rest of the series against the Senators, writes Katie Strang. Blog
"I sent him a text yesterday that said I'm sorry and I'm very regretful for what happened," Hagelin said after Sunday's practice.
Hagelin had a 1:30 p.m. ET hearing with Shanahan over the hit.
"I'm not allowed to talk about it; we'll see what happens," Hagelin said of the hearing. "Whatever decision they make, I have to face it."
The Rangers released a statement stating they would not pursue an appeal, but said that they were "thoroughly perplexed in the ruling's inconsistency with other supplementary discipline decisions that have been made throughout this season and during the playoffs."
Hagelin was assessed a five-minute elbowing major as a result of hitting Alfredsson hard in the corner. Alfredsson left the game and did not return.
"I tried to finish my check and he chipped it out and kind of went back a bit. So my elbow came up, so his stick kind of came up in my face and I kind of moved my head back a bit and my elbow kind of hit him in the head," Hagelin said. "I just hope he's doing well and that he can play [Monday night]."
Shanahan, though, didn't buy it.
"Although Alfredsson's stick comes up briefly prior to contact, we do not feel this is a reasonable excuse for the elbow that took place," Shanahan said in a video released by the league.
Shanahan said it was important to note that Alfredsson suffered an injury as a result of the play. He also said the fact that Hagelin had never been fined or suspended in his one-year NHL career was taken into account.
Both players grew up in Sweden, and Hagelin said Alfredsson was "one of my favorite players. I had no intention to hurt him."
In two playoff games, Hagelin's had one assist. In 64 regular-season games, he had 14 goals and 24 assists.
With Hagelin out of the lineup for Games 3, 4 and 5, there is a possibility that the Rangers could dress 20-year-old rookie Chris Kreider and allow him to make his NHL debut. Enforcer John Scott would be another candidate to enter the lineup.
Although (Daniel) Alfredsson's stick comes up briefly prior to contact, we do not feel this is a reasonable excuse for the elbow that took place.” -- NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan
Rangers coach John Tortorella would not comment on his lineup after Sunday's practice. Ruslan Fedotenko skated with Richards and Gaborik at practice before Hagelin got done with his hearing.
Shanahan called Carkner "the aggressor in an altercation with a defenseless opponent," in regards to the Ottawa player's suspension.
As the video shows, Shanahan says, "Carkner approaches Boyle with the sole purpose of fighting Boyle in response to an incident from the previous game."
He was assessed an instigator penalty, a fighting major and a game misconduct for his actions.
Carkner continued punching Boyle, even though it was clear that Boyle was "an unwilling combatant," which is in violation of rule 46.2, "fighting aggressor."
Carkner punched Boyle twice while he was up, and connected five times when he was down, Shanahan said.
Shanahan cited that Carkner had done something similar in Ottawa on Dec. 31, 2009 in reaction to a body check thrown by a teammate, and injured a New York Islander forward as a result.
An all-out melee ensued after the incident Saturday as Rangers left winger Brandon Dubinsky jumped on top of Boyle and Carkner in an effort to try and break everything up.
As a result, both Carkner and Dubinsky were ejected from the game, which prompted Dubinsky to smash a Gatorade jug out of frustration because he did not feel he should have been thrown out.
"I don't know. I'm not the ref, sorry," Dubinsky replied when asked why he was ejected.
Pressed, Dubinsky said, "I don't want to talk about it. We'll be ready to play [Monday]. I'll be ready to play [Monday]."
Given a chance to do it over again, Dubinsky said he would've come to his teammate's aid, but added he would've done so differently. He said the team doesn't plan to back down based on the physical nature of the series.
Carkner, along with Zenon Konopka, was added to the Game 2 lineup by Senators coach Paul MacLean to add grit following Ottawa's series-opening loss.
Carkner's contribution, however brief, wasn't lost on his teammates.
"We wanted to be more physical as a group," said rugged forward Chris Neil, who also fought Boyle before scoring the OT winner. "We came out and set the tone, and it paid off for us. Matt came out and did what he had to do and you can't say enough about it.
"You need to play tough out there and we did that as a group."
Tortorella, who claimed after practice that Boyle was "jumped," said he received an explanation from the league, but wouldn't elaborate about it. "It's none of your business," he said.
Tortorella and Boyle would not comment any further.
Boyle possibly could have been targeted because he repeatedly punched Ottawa's Norris Trophy candidate, Erik Karlsson, in Game 1.
Despite the loss, Tortorella was particularly positive about how his team played. If he isn't forced to make any moves, he won't. He was defiant when asked if the confidence of the Rangers -- the Eastern Conference's top-seeded team -- was shaken at all by the loss.
"Not a chance," he said. "We are who we are. I've said it all along, I like the hockey club. I like the way we handled ourselves [Saturday] night. We didn't get it done, but we're not changing. I'll tell you right now, we're not adjusting. We're going to go play."
"If we lose Hags for a game or two, Phillips should [miss] a game or two," Tortorella said after Game 2.
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.