Boston Bruins

May 6, 2019; Columbus, OH: Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) is called for an illegal check to the head against Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Josh Anderson (77) in the second period during Game 6 of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena. (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)

May 6, 2019; Columbus, OH: Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) is called for an illegal check to the head against Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Josh Anderson (77) in the second period during Game 6 of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena. (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Charlie McAvoy could be watching Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals from the ninth floor.

As reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie on Tuesday, the Bruins defenseman will have a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety concerning his hit to the head of Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson during Boston’s Game 6 win over Columbus on Monday. If recent precedents are any indication, then McAvoy could be looking at a one-game suspension.

Watch the hit below. McAvoy drives his shoulder into Anderson’s chest while keeping his skates on the ice. But he does clip Anderson in the side of the head on the follow-through and leaves his feet after contact. While McAvoy has no priors and likely didn’t deliver the hit with any intent of hitting Anderson in the head, the head contact may land him in trouble regardless of that.

McAvoy was assessed a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head. Per NHL rules, the officials had the option of assessing a match penalty, which would have resulted in an ejection for McAvoy.

Anderson appeared to avoid any injuries on the play and also looked to bury the proverbial hatchet with McAvoy during the postgame handshake line.

But the Bruins have reason to be wary of a suspension. There’s a precedent for the NHL to ban players for making head contact that was avoidable. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty got docked a game last April for a similar hit against the Golden Knights’ William Carrier.

One potentially key difference is that Carrier didn’t return to the game. Anderson didn’t miss extended time after the McAvoy hit.

Sharks center Joe Thornton also received a one-game suspension for a hit to the head in the first round of the 2019 playoffs. But when you watch this play, Thornton’s head contact was more egregious and avoidable than McAvoy’s was on Anderson.

The question here, essentially, is whether McAvoy gets a one-game suspension or nothing. Any more than a game would be draconian based on recent decisions from Player Safety. And at the same time, the fact that Anderson stayed in the game and ostensibly avoided a concussion could help McAvoy’s case.

But considering the clear head contact, the league may very well determine it was avoidable. So the Bruins should at least be prepared to be without McAvoy for Game 1 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.