This morning, the NHL Department of Player Safety announced that Panthers centre Sam Bennett is suspended one game for boarding the Tampa Bay Lightning‘s Blake Coleman.
Florida’s Sam Bennett has been suspended for one game for Boarding Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman. https://t.co/sQgkaojSGh
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) May 17, 2021
Panthers’ Sam Bennett Suspended One Game
The play occurred at 12:19 of the third period during last night’s Game 1 of the series. Bennett was assessed a two-minute minor for charging on the play. This would be Bennett’s first suspension at the NHL level. Bennett gained velocity (hence the charging penalty) and hit Coleman from behind, hard, right into the boards.
If Florida is to lose Bennett for any period of time during this series, it would certainly be a death wish for their chances at an upset. The 24-year-old forward flourished in top-six role-playing with Jonathan Huberdeau before the seasons’ end. After a few poor seasons in Calgary, Bennett exploded for 15 points in 10 games down the stretch. He’s become responsible for a lot of Florida’s scoring outside of their big-name talents. If they want to keep up with Tampa’s monstrous offence, Bennett will need to be a part of that. He showed he could do that at the playoff level, too, posting two assists in last night’s game.
What This Means for the Future
If Bennett is out for at least a game, it’s likely that Alexander Wennberg will step into the second-line centre role for Florida. The 26-year-old Swede has had something of a reclamation year himself. After signing a one-year deal in free agency, Wennberg regained some of his offensive touches, scoring 17 goals and 29 points in 56 games. The Panthers could see one of Aleksi Heponiemi, Eetu Luostarinen, or Lucas Wallmark step into the lineup to fill out a bottom-six centre role. Regardless, this news of a Sam Bennett hearing can’t sit well with this team’s chances to win the series.
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