Johansson had the puck coming through the neutral zone late in the first period on Monday, but passed the puck off after being pressured by a pair of Penguins players. Letang pinched in moments later and made contact with a vulnerable Johansson, who hit the ice hard (video above).
Johansson stayed down for several seconds before going off the ice on his own. He returned to the game in the second period.
Letang received a minor penalty for interference on the play.
Capitals defenceman Brooks Orpik was suspended three games for a late hit to the head on Pittsburgh defenceman Olli Maatta in Game 2.
If Letang does get suspended, Rule 48 is probably the most relevant to this case:
48.1 Illegal Check to the Head – A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable is not permitted. In determining whether contact with an opponent’s head was avoidable, the circumstances of the hit including the following shall be considered:
(i) Whether the player attempted to hit squarely through the opponent’s body and the head was not “picked” as a result of poor timing, poor angle of approach, or unnecessary extension of the body upward or outward.
(ii) Whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position by assuming a posture that made head contact on an otherwise full body check unavoidable.
(iii) Whether the opponent materially changed the position of his body or head immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit in a way that significantly contributed to the head contact.
Should Letang be suspended for his hit on Johansson?