The Rangers and Devils played this evening, March 19th, and started the game with 6 players in 3 separate fights. The New Jersey Devils started the game with Eric Boulton, Cam Janssen and Ryan Carter for their starting line-up. That would be #s 1, 2 and 4 in fighting majors for the team. The Rangers countered with their top 3 fighters (42 fights between them) in Michael Rupp, Brandon Prust and Stu Bickel. Both teams showed a lot of discipline in waiting until the 3 second mark to drop the gloves. On February 7th when these teams met, they had 2 fights break out at the 2 second mark (Janssen and Boulton taking on Rupp and Prust).
In any other professional sport this kind of display would be regarded as a disaster and a black mark on the league. It would be followed up with a press release from the league office commenting on how disappointed they are in the participants of this action and substantial fines and suspensions would be handed out. It’s unlikely that we will hear anything from the NHL. It’s just business as usual.
My post on the study of non-fighting PIMs and fighting stated that enforcers were more likely to be responsible for cheap shots versus policing the game. So let’s take closer look and see if this game supports that theory, or did all the roster enforcement clean it up after the 3 second mark.
- At 9:01 of the 1st Parise gets a high stick to the face, courtesy of the enforcer Prust. I guess he forgot that he’s on the roster to make sure that no one takes cheap shots…like high sticks to the face.
- Still in the 1st period, at 12:45, Salvador dumps the puck into the Rangers zone from the point and takes a hit as he does so. The Ranger player hitting him was Rupp, who immediately afterwards puts both his gloves into Salvador’s face and gives him a shove, drawing a roughing penalty. When I played hockey that was pretty much disrespectful. But Rupp is policing the game so I guess it was a pre-emptive strike.
- With 2 minutes left to play in the opening period, Boulton gets called for an obvious trip on Rupp. That’s how you clean up the game – by knocking the players down and wiping the ice with them.
- At the 7 minute mark of the second, Boulton continues to demonstrate how to keep the rats from taking over the game by hitting Fedotenko from behind and getting a boarding penalty.
- With 1:27 left in the second, Dubinsky (4th in fighting on the Rangers) decides to help out his fellow policemen and knocks Ponikarovsky into the boards from behind.
- That was just the penalties called, and does not include the hit by Dubinsky to the head of Volchenkov. So I need someone who “really understands hockey” to explain this whole enforcement thing to me again. Perhaps someone from the NHL or NHLPA, who has played competitive hockey unlike me, can tell me how these fighters are cleaning up the game. Maybe this is a bad example but it sure appeared to me that these players are not taking care of the rats – they are the rats. I think the enforcers need to have some kind of Internal Affairs department to investigate and clean up the police squad.