Did Duncan Keith deserve a suspension for smacking Jeff Carter in the face with his stick in Game 3?
Did I want him suspended?
I'm not so sure, and here is why.
The Blackhawks lead this series 2 games to 1, so they have a little wiggle room to lose a game.
It's the 3rd round of the Stanley Cup tournament and we all know that everybody is ailing one way or another. So a suspension for Keith amounts to a couple of days of rest without the wear and tear of playing a playoff game against the "heavy" Los Angeles Kings. Whether this series goes back to Chicago tied 2-2 or with the Kings on the brink of elimination, the Blackhawks will get a slightly more rested and healthier Duncan Keith back in their lineup for what will be a crucial Game 5 regardless of how the series stands after tonight.
Looking back, I remember another 3rd round one-game suspension from a few years back. In the 2007 Western Conference Finals between the Red Wings and Ducks, Chris Pronger was suspended one game for a hit on Tomas Homstrom in Game 3. The Wings led the series 2-1 after that game and looked primed to take a stranglehold lead on the series with Pronger sitting out Game 4 at the Pond. But the Ducks rallied for their punished leader and knotted up the series. With a rested Pronger back in their lineup, the Ducks won the final two games of the series to advance into the Finals.
Hopefully the other Hawks will not rally around their suspended player in the same way. And hopefully the Kings will find some holes in the Chicago defense and goalie in a way the Red Wings weren't able to in their Game 4 opportunity. Most of all, hopefully Keith remains shaken up about his dirtbag play when he returns to the Blackhawk blueline in Game 5, dismayed that his stupid error cost his team another game, but not inspired enough to win them one to make up for it.
Hopefully the 20 stitches in Jeff Carter's chin rally the Kings back into the Stanley Cup Finals.
But all in all, I'm not sure that suspending Keith for one game and giving him a chance to sit on the sideline and tend to any nagging injuries is the best way to deal with such an infraction in the playoffs.