Late in a tied game with the Buffalo Sabres, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak went to check Sabres captain Kyle Okposo along the blue line. He succeeded in preventing the zone entry, mainly because he elbowed the veteran forward in the jaw.
Props for Brian Engblom’s evolving feelings about the hit from didn’t get the elbow up —> sure it was an elbow, but the elbow was tucked in —> okay, the elbow came up.
While there was no call on the play, Cernak did meet with the league’s Department of Player Safety on Friday. The league’s roulette wheel of punishment doled out a two game suspension for the shutdown defender.
This isn’t Cernak’s first dance with DoPS as he was suspended for two games after elbowing Rasmus Dahlin back in 2019. Another play that wasn’t whistled by the refs.
Due to the way the league looks at a player’s history, just because Cernak has done the same thing before, doesn’t mean he is a repeat offender. Only suspensions within an 18-month window count as a previous incident when it comes to assigning punishments, although they can take it into consideration.
Cernak is the first player to be suspended but the fourth player to receive official discipline from the league this season as Pat Maroon was fined for unsportsmanlike conduct, Mikhail Sergachev has been dinged twice (once for slashing and once for roughing), and Ian Cole donated $5,000 to the Player’s Assistance Fund for kneeing.