Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Roman Polak has been suspended two games for boarding Columbus Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand. The suspension was announced Thursday by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
The incident took place in the third period of Wednesday’s game between the Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs. Polak was handed a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct.
The suspension is Polak’s first and he’ll forfeit about $25,000 in salary.
The suspension means that Toronto will have to look to some depth players, which puts them in a unique spot in a season that has come without heavy costs to the lineup. The Maple Leafs have, after all, only lost 101 man games to injury this year.
Defenceman Alexey Marchenko will be the guy to replace Polak for those two games. He had a kick at the can when Connor Carrick was injured, but his spot was relinquished when the blueliner returned to full health.
Marchenko’s insertion to the lineup comes at a time when coach Mike Babcock has been juggling defensive pairings, sometimes mid-game and sometimes mid-shift.
Missing Polak for two games, then, might not do too much to the overall flow of things and it might even give Babcock a chance to try out some new looks.
30-year-old Polak has eight points in 67 games this season.
In 626 games with the Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues, he has 112 points – including 23 goals and 89 assists.
21-year-old Bjorkstrand has 11 points in 22 games with Columbus this season. He’s averaged nearly 14 minutes of ice time a game. Right now, he’s listed as day-to-day with an “undisclosed injury.”