Following his hit to the head on Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall has been suspended for Game 7 of this first-round series.
Niklas Kronwall suspended for Game 7 of DET-TB series by @NHLPlayerSafety, following his head hit on Nikita Kucherov.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 28, 2015
This comes as a major surprise considering the fact that the play in question wasn't penalized on the ice and that the league has often shied away from suspending players both in the playoffs and especially in Game 7s. Kronwall is arguably the Red Wings' best defender, so losing him for Game 7 is a huge storyline. Nikita Kucherov returned to the game and appeared to be uninjured, which is sure to be pointed out ad nauseum in the coming days.
Bonecrunching hits notwithstanding, Kronwall actually hadn't been that effective so far in the series; just two points (both assists), he's one of Detroit's worst possession players (39.37%) and gives up scoring chances at will (42 Tampa Bay scoring chances recorded with Kronwall on the ice and 37.31% Chances For%).
Detroit will have a few options to replace him in the lineup:
#RedWings D available with no Kronwall are Jakub Kindl & rookie Alexey Marchenko. Marchenko 2 games in series, -3. Kindl offensive upside.— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) April 28, 2015
UPDATE: The suspension video from the Department of Player Safety: