Earlier this season, if you’ll recall, the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers took part in a line brawl, headlined by Ray Emery’s attack on Braden Holtby.
Makes for great debate and entertainment.
The teams have played a few times since that meeting, each one a mashing of bodies selling hate as the NHL does. But it didn’t boil over the same way it did four months ago. Not until Wednesday night anyway. Read more
“Hey Grandpa, tell us all about your first game in the NHL,” Kellan Lain might be asked by a starry-eyed child 50 years from now. At that point, he’ll probably fix his tie, mumble something unintelligible and try to quickly change the subject.
What Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella did to Lain Saturday night was indefensible. To his credit, Tortorella apologized and acknowledge he was wrong to have Lain out for the opening faceoff of Hockey Brawl Day in Canada ™ in his first-ever NHL game. Much has been made of the notion that Tortorella, who got off lucky with a 15-day suspension for the ensuing incident, had no choice but to start the players he did when Calgary counterpart Bob Hartley decided to ice his own version of Dancing Bears on Skates ™. But Tortorella did have a choice. He had Zack Kassian sitting on the bench. Read more
Nashville defenseman Kevin Klein threw down with Dallas agitator Antoine Roussel last night and the resulting fireworks proved that you don’t need two heavyweights for a main event; just a lot of haymakers thrown.
As Rory Boylen pointed out in his recap last night, Team USA likely wasn’t pleased to see Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler drop the gloves with Dustin Brown of the Kings, since both will be participating at the Olympics in Sochi, but for the rest of us it was a star-studded smashfest.
Kesler definitely earns the ‘W’ in this tilt by jerseying Brown early, but the Los Angeles captain got the last laugh as the Kings skated off with a 1-0 victory thanks to a goal by – you guesed it – Dustin Brown.
There is not an NHL team that takes more penalties or fights more often than the Philadelphia Flyers do. And lately there aren’t many teams that have been winning games with the regularity they have displayed.
And as a result, the Flyers have transformed a season that began as an unmitigated disaster into one in which they could be a force in the Eastern Conference. After defeating the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 for their 10th straight win at the Wells Fargo Center – all of them in regulation – the Flyers find themselves firmly in possession of a playoff spot in the east.
They’ve gone 8-2-0 in their past 10 games overall and since getting off to the worst start in franchise history at 2-10-0, the Flyers have put together a 21-7-4 run to pull themselves out of the abyss and into the ranks of legitimate playoff contenders. Remember, we’re talking about the Eastern Conference here. Is there anyone out there at this moment who thinks the Flyers are not capable of beating any team in the east in a seven-game series?
The ugly incidents in Boston on Saturday prompted the inevitable negative attention the NHL receives whenever the violence needle jumps from the “fun bloodlust” zone to “egregious embarrassment.”
And, predictably, the fight debate was re-ignited.
THN senior columnist Adam Proteau, serendipitously, had an interview scheduled with commissioner Gary Bettman on the weekend. While the game’s gatekeeper stickhandled around the specifics on the Shawn Thornton and James Neal cases, deferring to his department of corrections, he did allow that if the time ever came when he felt there was real support among his constituency to make fighting punishable by ejection, he’d expand the dialogue. He went on to cite a recent poll that apparently found 98 percent of players want things to remain status quo in terms of penalties for fisticuffs.