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Ryan Kesler lies hurting on the ice behind Flyers netminder Martin Biron. ((Richard Lam/Canadian Press))

Vancouver Canucks centre Ryan Kesler wants Philadelphia Flyers enforcer Jesse Boulerice to be slapped with a 20-game suspension for cross-checking him in the head.

Boulerice faces an automatic review by NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell after he received a match penalty and a game misconduct for cross-checking Kesler in the third period of Philadelphia's 8-2 victory in Vancouver on Wednesday night.

"I reacted in a bad way, the wrong way," Boulerice told reporters after the game.

In a pre-season back in September, Flyers rookie Steve Downie received a 20-game ban for leaving his feet and delivering a shoulder to the head of Ottawa's Dean McAmmond.

The Canucks forward believes Boulerice should receive a similar punishment, saying league officials "have to do something severe enough to scare guys from doing that."

Kesler, 23, practised with his teammates Thursday and expects to play Friday when the Canucks face the Oilers in Edmonton.

"I didn't see him coming and he just took my head off," Kesler of the cross-check. "I think he has a reputation of doing that, so we'll see what happens."

This is not the first time Boulerice, 29, has caused controversy.

In 1998, during his junior hockey days as a member of the Plymouth Whalers, Boulerice was charged with assault to do great bodily harm less than murder after hitting Andrew Long of the Guelph Storm during the Ontario Hockey League final.

Kesler believes the NHL needs to hand down a lengthy suspension on Boulerice to send a message to the league's players that it won't tolerate such behaviour.

"Until [NHL officials] suspend someone for a serious amount of games, I think it's going to continue to happen," said Kesler. "They're going to give him what they see fit. I really have no say in it."

Kesler's teammate, winger Matt Cooke, said Boulerice should receive a 25-game ban, because the incident was similar to the incident that saw New York Islander winger Chris Simon slash Ryan Hollweg of the New York Rangers in the face in March.

"It's not just a head shot," said Cooke. "It's a stick to the head. It could be even worse, especially with the history of the player."

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault believes the league has no option but to serve Boulerice with a lengthy suspension after it went to the lengths of explaining to each team what types of incidents should be avoided prior to the start of the regular season.

"They sent a tape out to every team saying what's acceptable and what's not acceptable," said Vigneault. "What we saw last night is definitely something that's not acceptable."

In his regular blog for CBCSports.ca, Hockey Night in Canada analyst Scott Morrison echoed the sentiments of Vigneault, saying the NHL "has to send another stern message to its players."

"About the only thing that could work in Boulerice's favour in this case is initial reports indicated Kesler wasn't badly hurt, but that is only a stroke of luck, not a reason for leniency," wrote Morrison.

With files from the Canadian Press