With a minute left in the second period of Saturday’s game, Stalberg took a pass out of the defensive zone and was shielding off Flyers captain Claude Giroux when Gudas stepped up and laid out the 29-year-old left winger. The hit left Stalberg flat on the ice:
Stalberg immediately went to the Rangers’ dressing room, which is never a good sign, and he didn’t return to the game. The official word from the Rangers was that Stalberg would not return to Saturday’s game due to a head injury.
Stalberg does have a history of head injuries, missing two games in October 2009 following a concussion while a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The case for suspending Gudas: Gudas could have made shoulder-to-shoulder contact with Stalberg, but, whether accidental or not, caught Stalberg in the head. The hit was also made while Stalberg was engaged with another player and could be considered a blind side hit, although not an egregious one. Of course, the injury to Stalberg will also play a factor, and that the Rangers said he was out with a head injury could play a part in whether Gudas has any supplemental discipline levied against him.
The case against suspending Gudas: That no penalty was called on the play won’t make a huge impact, but it certainly works in Gudas’ favor. There’s also an argument to be made that Gudas actually hit Stalberg in the shoulder before catching Stalberg’s head. That might be a tough sell, though.
Regardless of what comes to pass concerning supplemental discipline, the immediate concern is for Stalberg. That he was down for so long and immediately went to the dressing room isn’t a good sign, nor is the Rangers’ stating the winger was out with a head injury.