The first exhibition game of the new season went peacefully enough, as there wasn't a single fight in Monday's first rookie game between the Bruins and New York Islanders prospects at Nassau Coliseum.
The Bruins won that game 8-5, and maybe the Isles' youngsters took that a bit personally. Both sides were obviously in ill temper as Tuesday's rematch opened with no less than three fights in the first five seconds.
In a scene reminiscent of the big club's scrappy start against the Stars when Dallas came to the Garden in February, Bruins enforcer hopeful Tyler Randell dropped the gloves with Isles tough guy Brett Gallant just two seconds after the opening faceoff.
It was a long and spirited scrap between Randall, who was among the leaders in the Ontario Hockey League with 19 fighting majors last season, and Gallant, who had 22 fights in just 43 games in the AHL and ECHL last year. Randell landed the better blows early, though Gallant did get in a couple late shots after Randell had pulled the sweater over the Islanders winger's head.
Last year's tournament at the Garden featured a two-fight rule, with players ejected after a second fighting major in the two-game set. The same rule was expected to be in place this year, but Randell still expected he might have to get involved.
"I'm pretty sure it will be the same thing," Randell said before leaving for Long Island on Sunday. "I'm just going to play my game, take the body and if anyone decides they don't like it I'll definitely drop the gloves. If anyone takes any runs at linemates or teammates, I'll definitely be there to protect them."
Just one second after that fight, Bruins camp invite Conor Stokes took on heavyweight Benn Olson in another lengthy bout with both players landing plenty of shots. At the five-second mark, Kevan Miller, another Boston camp invite, squared off with Art Bidlevski as the physical tone was established emphatically early.
"I think for the most part, it's going to be about playing the game hard, and if stuff gets out of control I think the guys will look after themselves or if there's fighting to be done, that's going to be taken care of," Bruins assistant general manager Jim Benning said about the possibility of rough stuff before the games. "The guys are out there to show what they can do and they do that by playing. So I would think that it'll just be a hard-fought, clean game. I've seen their lineup, they have some skilled guys dressed and we have some skilled guys dressed so it should be a good fast game."
After the fights, the physical play continued with Bruins forward Anthony Camara landing a big hit on Brenden Kichton and New York's Calvin de Haan blasting Knight.
The Islanders appeared to get the biggest lift out of the fights, as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first period, with Northeastern University product Tyler McNeely scoring early, 2011 first-round pick Ryan Strome scoring two straight and Casey Cizikas added the fourth before the teams headed off for the first intermission.
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