On a break into the offensive zone in the third period, Blackhawks forward Ben carried the puck down near the top of the circle, attempting to go one-on-one towards the goal. Brendan, the Wings defensemen, caught up with him by skating laterally across the ice and caught him with a hit directly to the head.
This is the literal definition of Rule 48, governing an illegal hit to the head. There are questions on whether or not the impact to the head was intentional or not, but the rule doesn't make a distinction between intentional or not.
48.1 Illegal Check to the Head - A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact is not permitted.
48.2 Minor Penalty - There is no provision for a minor penaltyfor this rule.
48.3 Major Penalty - For a violation of this rule, a major penalty shall be assessed (see 48.4).
48.4 Game Misconduct - An automatic game misconduct penalty shall be assessed whenever a major penalty is assessed under this rule.
The distinction comes in on whether or not a match penalty is assessed.
48.5 Match Penalty - The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head.
And a match penalty was indeed given out to Brendan Smith in this instance, so the official clearly felt that it was a hit that intended to injure Ben Smith.
Brendan Shanahan has more work to do on this obviously, but as horrible as this hit looks, it's definitely a little more gray. Under the rule, if it's unintentional, there shouldn't be a match penalty, and in this situation, you'd expect a hit to take place.
Was it just bad luck that Ben Smith happened to cut to the middle just as Ben Smith was trying to deliver the check, or was it a suspension worthy hit laced with intent?