Saturday night's game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins will be remembered for what happened between Shawn Thornton and Brooks Orpik. That said, the hit that seemed to spark the tempers, was delivered by Orpik eariler in the period.
The Penguins defenseman delivered a hard check on Bruins forward Loui Eriksson, who was attempting to catch a pass. Eriksson had trouble getting off the ice and did not return to the game. Orpik was not penalized on the play.
According to the Bruins, Eriksson suffered a concussion on the play. It is his second of the season as he was also concussed on a hit from John Scott that earned the Buffalo Sabres enforcer a seven-game suspension.
On Orpik's hit, it was borderline as Eriksson did not yet have the puck. That he didn't receive a penalty wasn't terribly surprising. There are many checks in an NHL season where a player tries to time it so as to make contact with the puck carrier as soon as he gets the puck. Orpik was just a little late on this one, but it wasn't an unusual or malicious play on his part.
Eriksson never appeared to have full possession of the puck, which obviously isn't good, but it is hard to see a scenario in which Orpik would get suspended.
It was because of that hit, however, that Thornton tried challenging Orpik to fight to no avail. It wasn't until later in the period when Thornton went to exact his revenge and left Orpik out cold on the ice.
Now both Orpik and Eriksson are injured. It's amazing either team got out of that first period alive with the way things were going. Eriksson will not be traveling with the Bruins to Toronto for their Sunday game against the Maple Leafs. Orpik rejoined the Penguins after a trip to the hospital and will travel back to Pittsburgh with the team.
The NHL Department of Players Safety will have plenty of video to review from this one.