Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy has been suspended four games for an illegal check to the head of Florida Panthers defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the NHL's department of player safety announced Tuesday.
The incident occurred during the third period of Monday's game, as McAvoy delivered the blow with his shoulder and connected with Ekman-Larsson's head. The Boston blueliner received a five-minute major and a match penalty on the play.
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Ekman-Larsson did not return to the game following the hit. McAvoy will forfeit nearly $200,000 as a result of the suspension.
The department of player safety said in its ruling that the contact to the head was avoidable.
"If McAvoy wants to deliver this hit, he must stay low and choose an angle that hits through Ekman-Larsson's shoulder and core, rather than one that makes the head the main point of contact," the video explained.
McAvoy was previously suspended for one playoff game for an illegal hit against Josh Anderson during the 2019 postseason.
Widely considered one of the NHL’s best defensemen, his absence will be felt for the Bruins, who haven’t lost in regulation through October. McAvoy has recorded two goals and eight points in nine games, while providing elite shutdown play against top-line opponents.
McAvoy will be eligible to return on Nov. 11 against the Montreal Canadiens.
Boston will also be without defenseman Matt Grzelcyk after he suffered a lower-body injury during Monday’s game. Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said Grzelcyk will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis
The Bruins are off to a nearly flawless start to the season with an 8-0-1 record, while receiving elite goaltending from both Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman. Things will now get tougher for Boston as it navigates a stretch of games without two of its four best defensemen to start November.