Let’s face it. Much like people watch NASCAR for the car crashes, people watch hockey for the fights. I’m not sure what gets those guys so angry, but they loooooove to fight! Thankfully, they usually drop their sticks and fight with their hands. There was another scuffle last night during the Coyotes/Maple Leafs game at Jobing.com Arena.
(Courtesy of Sarah McLellan – Arizona Republic)
Infrequent foes in the Phoenix Coyotes and Toronto Maple Leafs should have dealt a clean contest in Thursday night’s 5-1 Coyotes win at Jobing.com Arena.
But one look at the penalty column tells a different story.
The 5-1 win for the Coyotes is almost a footnote to what caused the commotion after whistles during the later stages of the second period.
A shoulder hit by Leafs forward Mike Brown with 58 seconds remaining in the middle frame clipped the jaw of Ed Jovanovski and sent the Coyotes defenseman to the ice in visible pain. Once he recovered and was skating toward the Coyotes bench, Jovanovski engaged Brown and a crowd of shouts and pushing ensued.
That type of extracurricular activity continued two whistles later when each player grabbed a partner from the opposing team. The minor tussles resulted in four penalties and a strikingly different demeanor to the game.
“You never want to see one of your players take a hit to the head, but I thought it was great for us,” said coach Dave Tippett, whose squad stormed out for the third period and scored four goals. “It revved us up in the game. We got people engaged in the game then instead of sleepwalking through it.”
No penalty was called for Brown’s hit on Jovanovski, and it’s debatable whether the NHL will assess punishment after examining it. Jovanovski was playing the puck when Brown came in with a blindside shoulder check that connected with Jovanovski’s head.
Jovanovski also suffered a lower-body injury on the play, according to the Coyotes. He will be evaluated tomorrow, but Tippett believes Jovanovski will be fine.
“I thought it was a dirty hit,” defenseman Keith Yandle said. “I think it’s one of those plays where the guy’s only reason for going in there is to hurt a guy.”
Brown viewed the hit as just a regular tool in his repertoire.
“It’s the game of hockey,” Brown said. “I play that style of game, but I don’t mean to hurt anyone, making that bad hit.”
The definition of what is a clean versus non-clean hit is as nebulous as ever in the game, and captain Shane Doan, who was earlier this season tagged for a three-game suspension for a high hit on Anaheim’s Dan Sexton, wouldn’t speculate on what penalty Brown’s hit deserved.
“They (the NHL) have their agenda, their criteria what they want,” Doan said. “We’ll see.”