In the midst of a gorgeous little goal to put the Devils up 2-0 on the Flyers in the second period on Monday night, Anssi Salmela was knocked out cold following a hit from Jeff Carter. He appeared to lose consciousness before hitting the ice, and the brunt of his visible injuries seemed to come from his impact with the ice. By all accounts, there was a lot of blood on the ice once Salmela was carted off.
My first reaction was that this was a dirty hit. The timing is extremely suspect, and in real time it looks absolutely terrible. When you slow it down and take a look at the replay, it's a little less incriminating. It looks like a shoulder to the head of Salmela instead of an elbow, and the Devil has his head down in a high traffic area.
It wasn't a terribly late hit regardless, but if the argument is that Carter caught Salmela late, the obvious rebuttal is that if Michael Leighton makes the initial save, Salmela is right in front of him to bang home a rebound. Carter took care of that. Otherwise, I would say that this is an unnecessary hit, but given that little nuance it's hard to make that judgment.
Either way, it's a blindside hit, and league officials have stated they're trying to get blindside hits out of the game.
Just as with the Mike Richards hit on David Booth earlier this season, the result is terrible but it's hard to argue that Carter intended to injure Salmela. It would've been a shoulder-on-shoulder check if Salmela didn't have his head down.
We're not going to try to figure out how the NHL levies suspension decisions, but there was no penalty on the play. It basically comes down to which camp you're in. Do you believe that discipline should be handed out based on intent or based on result?