In today's NHL, big-time hits often draw immediate confrontation from the team that's on the receiving end, regardless if the collision is within the rules or not. Players like to stand up for their teammates and show they're willing to answer the bell.
On Tuesday night in New York, Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri was the guy who played the role of avenging teammate as he sought out Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren after the the blue liner crushed Colorado's Joonas Donskoi. As Donskoi attempted to carry the puck into the offensive zone at the end of the first period, Lindgren stepped into the puck carrier and absolutely leveled him with a violent hit along the boards.
It was a brutal collision in terms of sheer impact, but it didn't appear to be overtly dirty and no penalty was called. The 21-year-old Lindgren stayed on his feet and didn't appear to launch at Donskoi, though it looks like there was some head contact as Lindgren checked through the Colorado forward. Was the head the principle point of contact, though?
Kadri clearly wasn't thrilled with Lindgren's hit and the fact that it wasn't penalized, so he went after the young defenseman himself just seconds later. Both players dropped the gloves but the veteran Kadri got the jump on Lindgren, who always seemed to be playing from behind as the they duked it out. It was a heavy and brutal one-sided exchange as Kadri walloped Lindgren repeatedly, while the Rangers defenseman failed to land anything in return.
The retribution was extensive. By the time officials stepped in to break up the fight, Lindgren's face was cut open pretty good and he had to leave the ice. He was ruled out of the game with an upper-body injury shortly thereafter, leading to speculation as to whether he was concussed by Kadri during the fight.
Donskoi also exited the game and didn't return, and Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said in the postgame press conference that "the news isn't good" while discussing the forward's status.
As for Kadri, he received a two-minute minor for instigating, a five-minute major for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct penalty as a result of his actions in wake of the big hit. The Colorado center already had a team-high 60 penalty minutes heading into the night, and now the question becomes whether he might face supplemental discipline.
The league's Department of Player Safety has announced a hearing for Lindgren, who could face suspension for his hit on Donskoi, but the league hasn't scheduled a hearing with Kadri as of Wednesday morning. It's possible that one could be coming if it's felt that Kadri didn't give Lindgren enough of a fair shot to square up. Lindren's injury status also may hurt Kadri's case.
After the game, Kadri spoke to reporters and defended his actions.
"I watched the replay (of the hit on Donskoi," he said. "Shoulder right into his jaw and in his cheek and no call, so we have to take care of it ourselves. So that's what we did."