Pospisil expelled for punching Dunn that leaves Kraken furious

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The Seattle Kraken was furious.

And Martin Pospisil may very well have to answer to the NHL’s disciplinary committee.

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Late in Monday night’s game at the Saddledome, the Calgary Flames rookie pushed Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn head-first into the boards. It was from behind and immediately earned Pospisil a trip to the box for a foul over five minutes and poor conduct in the game.

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And shortly after the Kraken put the finishing touches on their 4-2 victory over the Flames, head coach Dave Hakstol rang the bell.

It wasn’t just the third-period hit that infuriated Hakstol.

He was also not happy with a hit much earlier on Adam Larsson.
And Pospisil didn’t respond for that by dropping the gloves with Tye Kartye in the second half? Hakstol didn’t like it much either.

“Trash,” said the Kraken head coach. “It’s actually not much different than the first hit six or seven seconds into the game. If you run like that, you’ll probably need to respond when someone comes at you man-to-man and that didn’t happen either, so I’ll leave it to the league from there.

“I thought both hits were as bad as you can imagine.”
For the Flames’ part, head coach Ryan Huska said he hadn’t had a chance to review the footage of Pospisil’s hit on Dunn when asked about it after the game.
However, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety will surely take a good look at the play on Tuesday morning.
And there’s a good chance Pospisil faces a fine and/or suspension, although it’s unlikely to be much longer than a game or two.

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That would still be difficult for the Flames. Since he made his debut in early November, Pospisil’s speed and physicality have been big assets for the team.

“He makes an impact every time he plays,” Huska said. “I guess he’s learning the ropes himself now, is what you could say. For most of the year he has been walking the line, on the right side, no doubt.
“He’s done a very good job with that. “He brings a lot to our team as far as physicality and making sure we’re prepared.”
Monday night, however, marked the second time in a month that Pospisil was ejected from a game. He was also ejected from the Flames’ Feb. 6 victory over the Boston Bruins for checking on Brad Marchand.

There was no supplemental discipline for that incident.

We’ll find out on Tuesday how the NHL feels about the Dunn hit, but the Kraken definitely wasn’t happy. Larsson called it “dirty and unnecessary,” while Jared McCann noted that they didn’t like the first period either.

From the Flames’ perspective, they need Pospisil to play their brand of physical, aggressive hockey. Huska described the 24-year-old as being a troublemaker at his best.

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But they also need him in the lineup.

Pospisil is relied on to play second-line minutes, most often around Nazem Kadri and Connor Zary, who was out Monday with a short-term injury.

And they’re a better team when he’s in the lineup. The numbers don’t lie.

The Flames have a record of 27-14-4 when the Slovak winger is in the lineup.

They are a pitiful 3-12-1 without him.

And with the clock ticking on the season and the Flames seven points out of the second wild card with 21 games remaining, they need to win as many games as possible.

With games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers this week and then the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, they have some tough opponents to beat on their schedule. Those are the kind of games where you could use a guy with Pospisil’s courage.

They want it to be physical. They want him to get under the skin of his opponents.

But there is a line and they need him on the right side of it.

“That’s part of the experience, the more you play, you understand and you will understand,” Huska said. “He’s a special player because of what he has, so you don’t want to take that away from him.”

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