Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen was fined $2,000 for diving/embellishment in an attempt to draw a penalty, the NHL announced Thursday. The incident in question took place nearly a week prior.
Fines are issued on a scale, and this is Rantanen’s second citation of the season. Should that trend continue for Rantanen or any other Avalanche player, coach Jared Bednar could be facing fines as well.
The release stated Rantanen was issued a warning following a play against the Arizona Coyotes on March 23. His second citation was issued for a penalty call near the midway point of a game April 30 against the Sharks. Rantanen charged up the boards alongside Mario Ferraro. Ferraro’s stick was at one point in Rantanen’s legs and the Avalanche’s leading goal-scorer fell. The referee was directly ahead of them and immediately signaled a tripping penalty.
NHL fines and suspensions are part of a heated national conversation as the regular season winds down. During a game Monday, the Washington Capitals’ Tom Wilson was shown throwing the New York Rangers’ Antari Panarin, a 2020 Hart Memorial Trophy finalist, to the ice.
Wilson, who has been suspended five times by the league, was fined $5,000. The Rangers tweeted a statement criticizing the punishment, saying Panarin was injured and will miss the rest of the season. To close the statement, the Rangers conveyed a belief that NHL Head of Player Safety George Parros was unfit to carry out his current job. The Rangers were fined $250,000 on Thursday.
Three fights broke out immediately following the opening faceoff in a rematch between the teams Wednesday. There were 100 penalty minutes in the first period and a total of 141 in the game.
“I do think the situation was blown out of proportion a little bit just because you don’t see that as much anymore,” Bednar said. “But every once in a while, something happens and players feel like they need to take care of it themselves. They did that."
The Avalanche’s well-established and potent top line has an off night every so often.
That paired with mistakes from the top defensive pairing contributed to a 3-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday with playoff implications.
“We had a big opportunity to get up in the standings and we let it slip,” forward Tyson Jost said.
Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Devon Toews and Cale Makar were on the ice as Tomas Hertl scored twice at even strength to erase a 2-0 Avalanche lead. One was a breakaway in which Hertl skated right by his coverage.
“Not enough importance put on our checking from that group of guys, I thought,” Bednar said after the game.
Bednar also pointed out the top line – specifically Landeskog – took the penalty that led to the winner from Erik Karlsson.
“Give them credit, they’ve been carrying us and doing the bulk of the heavy lifting to win us a lot of hockey games," Bednar said.
“We know they’re going to bounce back. All five of those guys are elite players and they’ve been fantastic for us all year. It's just disappointing in the moment that we were in a position to win a game. We make a couple mistakes and they score, and it’s an important game for us.”
It’s still not known whether top-4 defenseman Samuel Girard or versatile forward Brandon Saad will be able to return before the postseason. Neither are on the current road trip.
Bednar said Saad and Girard are doing off-ice work back at home. At this stage, he said, their status is day-to-day.
“In an ideal world, I’d love to have them back for the L.A. (Kings) games at home, or at least one of them,” Bednar said.