Smith absolutely played that wrong. Even without the head contact, it was an all or nothing defensive move, with the much greater chance of getting nothing and leaving Ben in for a clean breakaway.
I'm not sold on those situations being too similar. Brendan Smith is no Vladdy. And Ben Smith is no Claude.
Also, how is a 6 foot 2 defensemen supposed to get low enough on a 5 foot 10 inch forward to upend him like that?
Smith didn't really play it that wrong, it was an unfortunate incident, but Ben Smith put himself in the position for his head to get hit, instead of just taking the initial check which would have been body on body.
I always enjoy that video, though.
It doesn't matter that he's 6'2". Rob Blake is 6'3" and threw devastating hip checks. They just have to be done properly.
But when you line a guy up at that severe an angle, there's a high potential you'll miss. And if you throw a shoulder to try and catch some of him, there's a high potential you'll clip him in the head.