There were no slugfests, no drawn-out grapple-fests or knockouts, but the battles in the Battle of Ontario are still happening.
Matt Kassian took on both of Toronto's heavyweights in similar, quick bouts. Colton Orr quickly lost his balance and fell after a punch early in the first, and Kassian did the same versus Frazer McLaren later in the period.
The scoreboard was the Nazem Kadri show. After an opening power play goal by Joffrey Lupul, which Kadri had an assist on, Kadri then scored the next three goals for a natural hat trick - all assisted by Lupul. The Leafs shutout the Sens 4-0.
The first two games of the series this year went fightless. March 6th's game saw two fights, and the teams upped it to three last night with a scrum at the end. The Leafs and Sens meet for the last time (in the regular season, at least) on April 20th in Ottawa.
The Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames game had chatter hours before it started due to the announcement that Jarome Iginla was a healthy scratch. Immediately rumors swirled about which team he would be traded to.
A few minutes into the game Brian McGrattan dropped the gloves with Patrick Bordeleau. Anyone who's watched either player would have high expectations of such a match-up and the two delivered. An open, superheavyweight slugfest went down and the crowd (and Mike Haynes) went wild. It's currently pacing as the top rated NHL fight of the year.
I asked McGrattan if he knew much about Bordeleau going into the game. He said, "Not really, I just knew he was a big guy and has had some good tilts this year." He added, "Finally a guy that fights like me!"
I'll have to start adding a note to bouts like this. A new site acronym: JFWI.
Being an NHL rookie is never easy. Whether it's lofty scoring expectations, adjusting to the speed of the game, or knowing you have to seek out one of the NHL's premier enforcers for a scrap, rookies rarely have an easy inauguration. This month, we had two rookies make their debut, and come up on the wrong end of things: Ottawa Senators David Dziurzynski and Florida Panthers Eric Selleck.
No full season? No time to prepare for fantasy hockey in January? No problem.
hockeyfights.com is giving you not one, but two free fantasy games to play, both with great prizes. Let's make the most of the games we have left.
We've partnered with Draftstreet to do some free one-day fantasy leagues. They're free to play and have cash prizes. The first one is this Saturday. No need to worry about timing. Join now and you can pick your team immediately. It's a standard salary cap system. Can you pick the best players with the budget you have? Prove it. Win cash and bragging rights.
We've brought back hockeyfights.com's fantasy game that we did with SportsButter two years ago. Pick the best player from each box and collect fantasy points throughout the season. The fantasy points just happen to lean towards fighting majors and penalty minutes. Again, it's free to play and the top three winners on the season will win a box of Upper Deck Series One cards.
The NHL had a near full slate of games last night and a good number of fights as well. Fight numbers, which started off with a bang then simmered a bit, have now leveled off. Numbers are just about where they were two seasons ago.
Central Division foes for the final season, the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets had the current highest-rated fight of the night when Andrew Shaw and Matt Calvert dropped the mitts. The bout was fought as a locked out, free swinging affair.
Three fights resulted from three big hits. Colorado Avalanche winger Chuck Kobasew was crushed along the wall by Minnesota Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck and defenseman Justin Falk. Kobasew engaged Clutterbuck afterwards in a long, grappling affair. Nashville Predators Kevin Klein was ran to the ditch by Vancouver Canucks forward Steve Pinizzotto, which prompted the mitts to come off briefly. Finally, Pacific division rivals Los Angeles and San Jose had the gloves fall when Andrew Desjardins railroaded Colin Fraser, prompting teammate Jake Muzzin to step in and engage Desjardins in a decent scrap.
Bad blood returned to the Canucks-Wild series Sunday night. A penalty and scrum-filled first period gave way to Tom Sestito and Mike Rupp squaring off in a haymaker heavy affair. Each player had their moments as Sestito worked behind the jab early, and Rupp started letting the right go later on in the fight.
Sestito and Rupp have faced off against each other a number of times as members of the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, respectively. Despite the ferociousness of the
Patrick Atlantic Division rivalry, with each player having some face time on HBO's 24/7 last season they had never dropped the gloves until moving to their new teams.
Earlier in the evening, Buffalo Sabres Mike Weber engaged the Flyers Wayne Simmonds after the Philly winger destroyed Tyler Ennis along the boards. Weber attacked Simmonds as he was picking the puck up after the whistle, but wound up taking some heavy shots in a tilt that saw Weber also skate off with the instigator package.
Two games last night featured multiple fights. On the early slate was the Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils. Midway into the first period the Devils' Krys Barch and Bolts enforcer Pierre-Cedric Labrie dropped the mitts and engaged in a decent bought. It was the third straight game with a fight for Labrie, who fought Adam McQuaid and Deryk Engelland in his past two, respectively. Later in the match, David Clarkson and Keith Aulie went at it in what amounted to more of a wrestling match than a hockey fight.
Enter the late game: Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues. A rematch from last years playoffs with three fights in the opening frame. Barret Jackman and Colin Fraser got things started with a quick, uneventful scrap. On the ensuing faceoff, Kyle Clifford and Roman Polak went to battle, which featured Clifford scoring a highlight reel knockout as he landed a crushing right uppercut that put Polak down on and out, even as Polak connected with solid shot of his own. Five minute later, Ryan Reaves and Dwight King got into a technical match which featured more grappling than punching.
The game itself was just as exciting with the Kings coming back from three goals down and win to the delight of the home crowd. The Blues and Kings had two fights in their first match-up of the season.
Here they are: the Best NHL Fights of 2012-13.
Sure, there's not 2012, but we'll play along with the NHL and call the season by its proper title.
In just six action-packed weeks we've seen a good number of entertaining bouts.
The season started off with a bang, but has since simmered and numbers are falling more in line with recent seasons.