Thursday, December 04, 2008

Walk Softly and Carry a Hockey Stick

Maybe fighting and thugs aren’t quite as dead in hockey as some would have you believe. Witness the following sequence from last Saturday’s game between Minnesota and Nashville, won by The Wild 6-2.

With 6:50 gone in the second period and Minnesota leading 3-0, The Wild’s Stephane Veilleaux and Nashville’s Scott Nichol were each penalized five minutes for fighting. No shock there; the Predators were taking a beating and frustration may have bubbled over.

The ice was cleared and play resumed. At 6:53 (three seconds later), Minnesota’s Derek Boogaard and Nashville’s Wade Belak were each sent off for five minute fighting majors. The next fight didn’t erupt for three more seconds, when Craig Weller and Jordin Tootoo each got five minutes off.

The best part of the whole thing only becomes evident when checking the box score. Boogaard only had three seconds of ice time for the game, which means he came on the ice at 6:50 (when the clock was stopped for the first fight) and was gone at 6:53, when he got his penalty. He didn’t play again, even though 28 minutes remained in a blowout game after he was paroled.

A quick look at Boogaard’s record is interesting. He’s played 22 games this year, averaging a little under four minutes a game, based on his last five games, which are all I could find stats for. He’s managed to accumulate 30 penalty minutes in that brief ice time, which is an improvement over his historical norms, which show him averaging 2.26 minutes per game in the NHL, and 4.3 minutes per game in the minors.

Who says the new look NHL has no place for thugs? Seems pretty obvious Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire sent Derek over the boards at 6:50 of the second to kick some ass. Dave Schultz, Tie Domi, and Bob Probert must be so proud.

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