Hello sports fans, and welcome back to the wonderful world of NHL hockey!
Thanks to the NHL's Center Ice package being aired free for the next week, I was able to watch the Pens/Sabres game on Tuesday night. And during that game, I saw a fight that I was completely in favor of.
Yes, Philly phans (you know who you are), you heard that right. Please take a moment to catch your breath and pick your jaws off the floor before reading on.
The fight was between Mike Rupp and Paul Gaustad. I'm not lauding Rupp's beatdown of a guy who is not himself a fighter (and frankly, it was a beatdown). Rather, I was able to appreciate the reasoning behind the fight, and try as I might, I couldn't argue against it.
It was about midway through the third period. Buffalo was down by a goal, having scored a goal a few minutes earlier. Buffalo was coming hard trying to tie things up. The Sabres put a puck on the Pens netminder, Brent Johnson (Fleury had the night off after his exhausting effort in Vancouver).
Now, here's the point of it all. The shot came from about the right faceoff dot in the Pens' zone, and no Sabres were around the net before the whistle blew after Johnson gloved down the shot. But Gaustad, as often happens, crashed the net. However, as I said, the whistle blew well before he got there. Rupp put a forearm up to Gaustad's chest - again, a normal move - but Gaustad seemed intent on continuing on his path toward Johnson, so Rupp moved from blocking position to actually pushing Gaustad out away from the crease. I think there were then some words exchanged, and then the gloves dropped mutually and Rupp landed several right crosses to Gaustad's noggin.
In what we will call the Bettman's Nightmare "production meetings," I have made my position clear many a time regarding the netminder's right to his personal space - this is the primary reason I despise Scott 'Soul Glo' Hartnell. So, having made such a blatent attempt to get in Brent Johnson's kitchen, I offer here my first ringing endorsement of a fight during a professional ice hockey game.
FYI, I was planning on writing a blog this evening warning yinz guys not to be surprised if Jarome Iginla were to be traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, a la Boston sending Ray Bourque to Colorado so that he could win a championship before retiring (the Flames are doomed as long as they have the choke artist Kiprusoff in net, which looks to be indefitely).
But then I thought better of it. While Iginla has no shot while in Calgary, he's got a ways to go before the fine people running Alberta's transplant franchise send Iginla off into the sunset of a true contender's roster - despite how well he worked with Crosby during the Olympics.