Kulikov playing the puck in the neutral zone
Photo credit: The Hockey News

Panthers' dirty play has finally caught up to them, as hulking defenseman earns multi-game suspension

Published March 18, 2024 at 6:55 PM

The Florida Panthers are currently 2nd in the Atlantic Division and are tied for 2nd in the Eastern Conference and the NHL with a superb 45-19-4 record. A big part of their success comes from their aggressive nature, physicality, and two-way play but they usually toe the line with some suspect hits and plays that should have earned suspensions.

However, it seems that the NHL's Department of Safety has finally nailed a Panthers player as defenseman Dmitry Kulikov was just suspended for 2 games for an illegal check to the head on Tampa Bay Lightning's forward Conor Sheary.

During the early portion of the 2nd period of their game on Saturday night, Andrei Vasilevskiy made a stop from a shot that came from a bad angle, he thought he had it covered, but it squeezed out. As the puck made it's way out of the blue paint, Kulikov came in with a full head of steam and nailed Sheary with an elbow to the head.

There was almost no intention from Kulikov to go for the loose puck, he then leaned into the check, and made contact with his elbow as he got Sheary flush on the head. Kulikov will miss games against the Nashville Predators and New York Rangers later this week before a return on Sunday when they face the Philadelphia Flyers.

We've seen first hand some dangerous hits from Panthers forwards like Nick Cousins and Sam Bennett receive no suspension or fines. During their most recent playoff matchup last spring, Bennett grabbed and slammed Matthew Knies onto the ice, utilizing a move you'd see in the WWE, causing an injury, and still no supplemental discipline from the league. Knies ended up missing the rest of the post-season as a result.

Kulikov has 0 goals and 16 assists in 64 games this season to go along with a plus-9 rating, 59 PIMs, 121 hits, 70 blocks, and averaging 16:22 TOI.

March 18   |   577 answers
Panthers' dirty play has finally caught up to them, as hulking defenseman earns multi-game suspension

Should Kulikov have received more than 2 games?

Yes, he intended to injure him52591 %
No, 2 games should be plenty for that play529 %
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