Pospisil ejected for hit on Dunn that leaves Kraken fuming

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The Seattle Kraken were livid.

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 drove Kraken defenceman Vince Dunn headfirst into the boards. It was from behind and immediately earned Pospisil a trip to the box for a five-minute major and a game misconduct.

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And shortly after the Kraken put the finishing touches on their 4-2 win over the Flames, head coach Dave Hakstol sounded off.

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

He wasn’t pleased with a much-earlier hit on Adam Larsson, too.
And Pospisil not answering for that by dropping the gloves with Tye Kartye in the second period? Hakstol didn’t like that much, either.

“Garbage,” the Kraken head coach said. “Not really a whole lot different than the first hit six or seven seconds into the game. You run around like that, you probably need to answer when somebody comes to you man-to-man and that didn’t happen, either, so from there I’ll leave it to the league.

“I thought both hits were just about as bad as you get.”
From the Flames’ side, head coach Ryan Huska said he hadn’t had a chance to review footage of Pospisil’s hit on Dunn when he was asked about it post-game.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety will surely be taking a good, long look at the play on Tuesday morning, though.
And there’s a good chance Pospisil will be facing a fine and/or a suspension, although it’s unlikely to be much longer than a game or two.

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

“He has impact every time he plays the game,” Huska said. “He’s learning his way right now, I guess, is what you could say. For the majority of the year he’s been walking the line, on the right side of it, for sure.
“He’s done a really good job with that. He brings a lot to our team in regards to physicality and making sure he’s prepared.”
Monday night, though, marked the second time in a month that Pospisil has been ejected from a game. He was also tossed from the Flames’ February 6 win over the Boston Bruins for cross-checking Brad Marchand.

There was no supplementary discipline for that incident.

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

From the Flames’ perspective, they need Pospisil to play his brand of physical, aggressive hockey. Huska described the 24-year-old as being at his best when he’s being an agitator.

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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 on 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 27-14-4 record when the Slovak winger is in the lineup.

They’re a woeful 3-12-1 without him.

And with the clock ticking down on the season and the Flames sitting seven points back of the second wild card spot with 21 games left, 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’ve got some tough-to-beat opponents on the docket. Those are the types of games where you could use a guy with Pospisil’s grit.

They want him being physical. They want him getting under opponents’ skin.

But there’s a line, and they need him on the right side of it.

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

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