Evgeni Malkin Downplays Swinging Stick at Michael Raffl

Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin will have a mandatory meeting with the NHL's Department of Player Safety in which he should face a suspension following his violent stick swing directed toward Michael Raffl.

It will be interesting to hear how Malkin attempts to downplay his actions after reading his postgame comments.

"I didn't hit him in the face," Malkin said Monday. "If I had touched him in the face, for sure, I would get suspended. It's a high stick, but it's not like I broke his face. I think I won't get suspended."

It appears from the image that Malkin indeed missed Raffl with his stick, but the Pens' star center completely downplayed the intention of his actions. 

"I'm not trying to hit his face. I know it's dirty, but I missed, my stick [did] not touch his helmet or shoulder," Malkin said. "He just like dived and the referee gave me five minutes. Nothing like dangerous, [he's] not bleeding, nothing. I know I gave them a five-minute power play, but it's my fault for sure. Play smart next time."

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Whether Raffl embellished or not (and don't get me started with the Penguins when it comes to embellishing penalties), Malkin swung his stick without looking that could have struck Raffl or another Flyers player in the face, resulting in a possible career-ending injury. 

"I was a little surprised it was a match [penalty] because the player didn't get hurt on it or there wasn't real significant contact," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "But that's not how the referee saw it."

Raffl initially engaged by throwing a punch to the back of Malkin's head, but the attempt at retaliation was much more severe and the league should punish Malkin, who admitted he engaged in a dirty play and has gained that reputation throughout his career.

Malkin was assessed a match penalty back in November for an elbow to the head of Washington's T.J. Oshie, but somehow managed to avoid suspension. 

It's time for the league to send a clear and direct message to Malkin and the Penguins.

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