The National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety has just announced that Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian is facing a potential suspension. According to an official release from the NHL, Kassian will have a hearing Monday for Roughing/Aggressor on Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk, an incident that occurred on Saturday night during the "Battle of Alberta" a match up between the Flames and the Oilers.
This is not an in person hearing so if Kassian is suspended here, and I suspect that he will be, it sounds like it will be a relatively minor suspension which would appear to fit the bill in this case.
The game very much had a playoff atmosphere and it is an atmosphere that will likely carry over into their next meeting just later this month. Late in the second period, with the game all tied up at 3 goals a piece, the Flames got some serious momentum courtesy of the aforementioned Tkachuk when he absolutely destroyed Kassian with a monstrous hit behind the goal line. The hit completely leveled the Oilers big man and even sent his helmet flying across the ice, this in spite of the fact that it appeared to be a clean, shoulder to shoulder, hit from Tkachuk. Clean or not Kassian was not about to take that laying down however, and he snapped on Tkachuk immediately following the hit.
The enraged Kassian pummeled Tkachuk in the head with some ferocious punches and given the damage that was visible on Tkachuk's forehead after the fact I think it is safe to say that many of those heavy bombs found their mark. To his credit though Tkachuk remained calm and effectively secured a huge powerplay for his team in the process, all the while sending Kassian back to the locker room.
The timing here is quite interesting because the NHL schedule will have these two teams facing again in short order. The Flames and the Oilers will once again reignite the Battle of Alberta at the end of January and Kassian should be back in the line up long before then even with this upcoming suspension. Something tells me we will be hearing more about the dynamic between these two players when that time comes.