Edmonton Oilers v New York Rangers

Oilers and Rangers get into line brawl during Rangers blowout win

You see it happen every now and again that teams mixed up in a blowout game will see tempers get hot and then everyone’s throwing off the gloves. You usually don’t end up seeing a full-on line brawl in the NHL anymore but this afternoon’s game between Edmonton and the Rangers in Madison Square Garden saw just that.

With the Rangers in control of the game up 5-2 midway through the third period, Sean Avery delivered a crunching hit to Colin Fraser along the boards. A big hit, but a legal one. Edmonton’s Ladislav Smid apparently took umbrage with Avery and asked him to drop the gloves. Avery said yes, and caught Smid with a quick right hand and dropped him to the ice. After those two were being wrangled up to be sent to the penalty box, and the game went to commercial break, upon returning to action all hell broke loose. You can see the video of the entire fiasco here.

After seeing what happened, Smid and Avery did a bit of talking and Avery seemingly was turning him down and then opted to go for it once action got deep enough down in the other end of the ice. While Avery was being sent to the locker room, Oilers defenseman Theo Peckham appears out of nowhere to have a word with him. NHL.com’s Dave Lozo gets the low-down from Peckham and Colin Fraser as to what they saw happen.

“I just watched my teammate ask a guy to fight,” Peckham said. “Avery said ‘No, no next shift.’ And as soon as Smider turned around, he sucker punched him. He skated by our bench laughing. I definitely made a mistake and went a little wonky, but we’re family and sometimes you have to make a stand for yourself.”

“It was a sucker punch,” Fraser said. “I think he had his chance, fair and square, 1-on-1 with (Smid). I could hear (Smid) with my own ears. ‘Let’s go, let’s go.’ Hey, if you don’t want to fight, that’s fine. You don’t have to fight. But you can’t punch the guy after you’ve already said no.”

Sean Avery and controversy certainly get along just fine. As for the whole penalty breakdown of what happened when everyone seemed to pair off to bring Fight Night back to MSG, take a look at this run down.

Also mixing things up were tough guys Brandon Prust and Zack Sortini, meanwhile Brian Boyle picked off Theo Peckham after he tried to get at Sean Avery on his way to the tunnel. Boys will be boys they say, right?

For what it’s worth, ESPN’s E.J. Hradek says that he’s hearing that there won’t be any suspensions coming out of this whole thing, but for one afternoon we had a throw back to the old days of hockey when things could bubble over at any moment and turn ugly. It’s brought a tear to my eye at least.

Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

Alex Ovechkin
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Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.

Bruins put Morrow on IR, bring up Cross

Brady Skjei, Joe Morrow
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Lower-level defense is not the biggest of many worries for the Boston Bruins, yet it might be another in a series of headaches.

CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty points out that Joe Morrow has been placed on IR while AHL stalwart Tommy Cross was called up.

With a -3 rating and negligible offensive impact so far, few will really be missing Morrow (pictured). From the way Haggerty describes Cross, it’s a pretty cool story if he gets into the lineup:

Cross was named captain of the Providence Bruins this season, and actually had a strong training camp as the hard-hitting, tough stay-at-home defenseman he’s developed into during his five years in the B’s minor league system. The 2007 second round pick was a highly regarded potential puck-moving defenseman when he was drafted prior to his Boston College career, but a series of knee injuries negated some of his speed and puck-moving capabilities.

Granted, the Bruins would prefer a sure-thing improvement over a feel-good story right now, as this 0-3-0 start marks their worst beginning in some time.

Injuries have been an issue in general, too, with Zdeno Chara‘s slow start mixed with Dennis Seidenberg on the mend and Brad Marchand in limbo.

The Bruins’ next game comes against the Avalanche in Colorado. Maybe they’ll start to mend things on the ice?