Fight night: Arron Asham drops Jay Beagle, taunts afterwards

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Fighting is a tough way to make a living in the NHL. As if there were ever any doubt that hockey players willing to stick up for their teammates are manly men, Arron Asham gave us a clear reminder. Actually, its Washington’s Jay Beagle that reminded us that sticking up for teammates is a commendable way to make a living. Asham was the reminder why it’s such a tough way to collect a paycheck in the 3rd period of the Capitals’ OT victory over the Penguins.

Here’s the scene: Caps forward Jay Beagle hits Kris Letang and knocks off his lid. Penguins’ tough guy Arron Asham confronts Beagle for laying a big hit on one of his skilled teammates, and Beagle unfortunately obliges the request to drop the gloves. As most people will tell you—this is part of hockey. Asham confronted Beagle because that’s his job in the NHL. Beagle accepted the Asham’s request because, well, that’s what hockey players do. He’s a veteran of only 42 career games and he’s desperately trying to make solidify his spot on the Capitals roster.

Two punches to the face, a lost tooth, and a bloody face later and Beagle may have wanted to rethink his decision. Here’s the video, but beware: there’s about a quart of Beagle’s blood on the ice after the fight.

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Aside from the clear knockout, the fight made waves around the internet because of Asham’s perceived actions after the fight.  As if the Pens/Caps rivalry needed any more fuel.

“Asham appeared to taunt Beagle on the way to the penalty box, gesturing that he was ‘asleep,’ but tapped his stick in the penalty box when Beagle, a significantly less experienced fighter, left the ice.”

There was some argument whether Asham had done anything wrong—but afterwards the Pens’ forward confirmed that he did, in fact, taunt after the fight. He took the post-game questions and explained that his own actions after the fight were “classless,” “uncalled for,” and that he was “caught up in the moment.” The actions were classless and uncalled for, but owning the mistake after the game was a stand-up move.

What do you think? Do you think Arron Asham’s post-fight gesture was uncalled for or do you give him the benefit of the doubt because he was caught up in the moment? Do his postgame comments influence your thoughts at all? Let us know what you have in the comments.

Update (1:05am EST): Alexander Ovechkin offered his thoughts after the game: “It’s a hockey game, but that was pretty tough. Beagle … he’s not a fighter, he’s just, it’s not his job to fight. I don’t know, it’s kind of unrespectful for players on a different team.” (Video link)

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Video: Johansen, Fisher join in Predators’ conference title celebration

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After reaching their first ever Western Conference Final, the Nashville Predators topped that in a big way, advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history.

There were a lot of firsts and rarities along the way.

In ousting the Anaheim Ducks with a 6-3 victory in Game 6, GM David Poile’s team advanced to the championship round for the first time in his lengthy time as an executive.

Peter Laviolette also became the fourth coach in NHL history to bring three different team to a Stanley Cup Final. The Predators are also the first 16th seed to make it this far.

Yep, that’s a long list of milestones (and not a comprehensive one). And, to think, the Predators haven’t even been on the brink of elimination during the Stanley Cup Finals yet.

It’s special stuff, so don’t be surprised by the boisterous celebration you can see in the video above this post’s headline.

P.K. Subban: No city in the NHL ‘has anything on Nashville’

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If there’s one thing we can agree upon about the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s that these months have really cemented just how hockey-mad Nashville has become for its Predators.

(Yes, you can call it “Smashville” if you’d like.)

The scene at Bridgestone Arena was as boisterous as ever in the Predators’ 6-3 Game 6 win against the Anaheim Ducks, with legions of fans packing and surrounding the building.

Sights like these have becoming resoundingly normal for a hockey market that was once questioned by media and other fan bases:

Yeah, wow.

As the Predators advanced to their first-ever Stanley Cup Final, plenty of people were making jokes at the expense of the Montreal Canadiens for trading P.K. Subban. Of course, Subban wouldn’t take a shot at the Habs during such a great moment, but his praise for puck-nutty Predators fans says a lot in itself.

“I played in an A+ market my whole career,” Subban said, via Jeremy K. Gover of the Nashville Predators Radio Network. “There’s not a city in the league that has anything on Nashville.”

Whether their opponent is the Pittsburgh Penguins or Ottawa Senators, we already know that Nashville will begin the Stanley Cup Final on the road. That’s OK … Predators fans might need some time to get their voices back and recover from celebrating, so waiting until Games 3 and 4 might be a blessing in disguise.

Ducks’ Cogliano just doesn’t think Predators were the better team

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The Anaheim Ducks battled their way to Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, but Colton Sissons and the Nashville Predators ended their season on Monday.

The Ducks are processing that disappointment – being just two wins away from a trip to the championship round – and some of their reactions might spark a little controversy.

Specifically, it sounds a bit like Bruce Boudreau believing that his Minnesota Wild were superior to the St. Louis Blues despite falling in that series.

Andrew Cogliano, it must be noted, was spurned by Pekka Rinne on some early chances in Game 6. He likely feels as frustrated as any Ducks player right now.

Sisson’s hat-trick goal, making it 4-3 before two empty-netters cemented the 6-3 finish, was the dagger that finally put the hard-working Ducks down.

One can understand some of those feelings from Anaheim, especially considering the frustration of a) getting over Jonathan Bernier‘s early struggles to make a very real game of this and b) occasionally carrying the play in a dramatic way, including in Game 6.

Still, the Predators got the right combination of great stretches of play from Rinne and strong work from the expected and the unexpected, such as Sissons.

For an aging star like Ryan Getzlaf – a player who produced some of his best work late in the season and during the playoffs – you have to wonder how many chances remain.

Predators eliminate Ducks, reach first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history

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Colton Sissons made a serious argument that the Nashville Predators do, indeed, still have a No. 1 center.

At least, he certainly played that way on Monday, generating a hat trick as the Predators eliminated the Anaheim Ducks via a 6-3 win, taking the series 4-2.

In doing so, the Predators advanced to their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.

That 6-3 score is very misleading. While Nashville managed 2-0 and 3-1 leads, there was plenty of drama in this one, as the Ducks did not go down easily. Cam Fowler tied it up 3-3 in the third period, briefly stunning a rowdy crowd in Nashville.

Sissons was up to the task, however, settling down a bouncing puck on an otherwise stupendous Calle Jarnkrok pass to score the game-winner, notching a hat trick in the process. Sissons continues to be an unlikely hero for a Predators team dealing with the absence of Ryan Johansen (not to mention Mike Fisher, Craig Smith, and others).

Two empty-netters inflated the score, and they also sapped drama from the closing moments, which must have been quite the relief considering how much resolve Anaheim showed.

Peter Laviolette distinguishes himself as one of the NHL’s most underrated bench bosses, becoming just the fourth coach in league history to take three different teams to a Stanley Cup Final. He couldn’t win it all with the Philadelphia Flyers, but he does have a ring thanks to his time with the Carolina Hurricanes. Perhaps he’ll take another one this spring?

It’s quite the moment for GM David Poile, too, after trading Shea Weber for P.K. Subban and Seth Jones for Johansen, among other pivotal moves.

The Ducks might wonder what could have been if John Gibson played instead of Jonathan Bernier. Bernier struggled early, allowing two goals on the first three shots he faced and generally having a tough Game 6. Pekka Rinne, meanwhile, maintained his mostly great run in the playoffs; he protected a Predators lead even when the Ducks dominated long stretches of play.

Now the Predators get a nice rest, as the Eastern Conference Final continues with a Game 6 on Tuesday (and possibly a Game 7 on Thursday).

They’ll limp a bit toward that final round, but the Predators seem to be embracing new territory. And sometimes new heroes.