Toronto Maple Leafs forward Michael Bunting may find himself in hot water after delivering a dangerous hit on Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak during the second period of their playoff game. Bunting received a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for elbowing Cernak in the head, an action that left the Lightning defenseman injured and possibly concussed.
As a result of the hit, the Lightning were awarded a power play, which they capitalized on to extend their lead to 5-2. However, the loss of Cernak could prove to be a significant blow to the Lightning’s blue line. The 25-year-old defenseman has been an integral part of the team’s back-to-back Stanley Cup victories, having already played in 73 playoff games. Bunting ejected from Game 1
The NHL Department of Player Safety will likely review the incident to determine if any further disciplinary action, such as a fine or suspension, is warranted for Bunting’s hit on Cernak. Player safety is a top priority for the league, and dangerous hits that target the head are generally not tolerated, especially in the playoffs.
In the meantime, the Lightning will need to adjust their lineup and defensive strategy to compensate for Cernak’s potential absence. His experience and contributions to the team’s success cannot be understated, and it will be interesting to see how the Lightning cope without him should he be sidelined with injury.
This is only game 1 of this series, and it has been very intense. Bunting let his emotion get the best of him with this high hit that could now see him suspended. Bunting ejected from Game 1