It’s also been subject to an ever-growing series of ill-informed attacks by many in the media. While there’s no denying there are risks involved when players drop the gloves on the ice, what is often overlooked is that there are still also rewards to the practice.
To those that continue to argue that fights are simply sideshows that have no impact on the outcome of a game, Milan Lucic provided an unimpeachable rebuttal Wednesday night in Ottawa.
With the Bruins looking sluggish and disinterested early in their matchup with the Senators, Lucic took matters into his own hands when he tried to spark his club with a scrap with Ottawa heavyweight Matt Carkner.
The Bruins winger doesn’t fight as much as he did earlier in his career now that he has a 30-goal campaign on his resume and is a fixture on the top line, but he’s still a capable brawler and recognized his team’s need for an emotional jolt.
So at 11:46 of the opening period and the game still scoreless thanks solely to Tim Thomas‘ strong work in goal as the Bruins had been outshot 9-2, Lucic shed the mitts for just the second time this season against Carkner. It was an even slugfest with both combatants landing heavy blows, but while the fight itself may have been a draw, Lucic gained the advantage with what happened afterward.
The Bruins responded to Lucic’s leadership by picking up their play. Rich Peverley built on the momentum from the fight by opening the scoring just 24 seconds later, and the Bruins would eventually go on to a 5-2 victory.
“I think that had a lot to do with it,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of the fight after the game. “I think that we were so flat that when that happened and he got challenged, he responded well and we scored shortly after that. We almost needed that. The ice just seemed to be tilted in one direction there in the first half of that first and it seemed to pick up a little of our game there late in the first.”
Of course, there will be some who will question whether Lucic’s fight really was a key turning point in the game. You just won’t find them inside the Bruins’ locker room.
“I think it’s not overstated at all,” Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said Thursday when asked about the fight’s impact. “He did a great job fighting a heavyweight like Carkner. I mean Looch just showed that he’s an all-around guy. He fights the heavyweights, he scores goals and plays physical. It was definitely a wake-up call for us to get going and not to have his effort go to waste.”
Lucic’s efforts weren’t wasted, much like the Bruins have responded by similar attempts to spark the club by Shawn Thornton and Greg Campbell among others in the past. Not everyone has to enjoy it, but fighting is still a part of hockey, and it’s an element that can have a significant impact on the outcome of a game.