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Putting On The Foil

Whether you are for or against fighting in hockey, you never leave your seats or change the channel during a hockey fight.

Bruce Bennett

Whether you are for or against fighting in hockey, you never leave your seats or change the channel during a hockey fight. Casual fans are fascinated by it, as it is not allowed in other sports. Fans either love it or are disgusted by it. Most of us hockey enthusiasts believe there is a time and a place for a fight.

The Bruins seem to know the proper time and the place for fighting; in both of the last two seasons the Bruins have come in second in the league in fighting majors. In 2010-2011, the Bruins had 71 fighting majors, compared to the league-leading Blues’ 78, and, last season, the B’s total 61 fighting majors were just behind the Rangers’ 65.

While Shawn Thornton led the Bruins in fighting majors in both seasons, the workload spreads out from there. It is worth noting that, top to bottom, most of the Bruins will drop the gloves. In 2010-11, 17 different Bruins were assessed with fighting majors, including the fight-filled February 2011 game against Montreal. In that glorious game, two Bruins who rarely swap knuckles were involved in altercations: Tim Thomas and Mark Recchi. Last year, 14 Bruins were assessed with fighting majors.

Another interesting stat is that the Bruins have won a majority of games in which they fight over the last two seasons. Love him or hate him, Jack Edwards is right when he says “Don’t. Poke. The. Bear”. During the last couple of seasons, it seemed the Bruins were dropping the gloves every other game. It seems that way because it was that way. In 2010-11, in the 44 games in which Bruins were assessed fighting majors, they were 24-20. For games that yielded multiple fighting majors, the Bruins were even better with an 8-5 mark. Last season, the Bruins dipped a bit with 40 games with a fighting major, but they won a higher percentage of games (29-11). In games with multiple fighting majors, the Bruins won two out of every three, going 10-5 in those contests.

Montreal and Buffalo have responded this offseason in hopes of getting tougher for the upcoming season. It is a smart move on their part. With six games against Boston a year, both teams’ lack of toughness have been highlighted. As Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli says, toughness does not always result in a fight, but familiarity does breed contempt.

While the Bruins' favorite dance partners are in the division, which could be the reason the Habs and Sabres are bulking up, one team outside the division that is often willing to go are the Flyers. During last year’s four-game season series, there were eight fighting majors between the Bruins and Flyers. The Bruins won three of those four games; they were also entertaining because both teams averaged a total of seven goals per game.

Inside the Northeast Division, the Bruins went 4-2 against Buffalo with six fights over six meetings. Buffalo faced a lot of criticism for not answering for the Milan Lucic hit on Sabres goalie Ryan Miller. They answered this offseason by trading for “Brave” Steve Ott and John Scott. Ott, who is no stranger to the Boston Bruins, was the agitator in two of the more memorable games in the recent history against the Dallas Stars. Scott already has a history with Thornton. Scott has already been asked about how he will handle Boston if there was a redux of Lucic-Miller. John Scott said, “Hopefully, with me next year, that doesn’t happen”.

There are many reasons to hope for some semblance of a 2012-13 season and this is just one of those reasons.