If you feel like players have been dropping the gloves a lot more this season; you’re right.
Through Feb. 25, there have been 0.55 fights per game, which is up from 0.44 in 2011-12, according to ESPN The Magazine.
To look at it another way, if picked a game at random and watched it all the way through, there would be a 41.4% that you’d see a scrap. That’s the highest it’s been since 2001-02.
San Jose Sharks forward Ryane Clowe, who has 70 penalty minutes in 20 games this season, thinks this spike in aggression can be traced back in the lockout.
“After the first few games, when players were getting their stamina back, the games got tight and physical,” he said. “You’re so energized and hyped up to be playing again.”
Fighting tends to decline towards the end of the season, but it’s hard to gauge if the shortened campaign will be any different.
“When you get to the last 10 games of the season, discipline becomes paramount,” said Dallas Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “But you’ll still see fights if there are races down the stretch and teams are looking for any edge.”
With the season only lasting 48 games, there isn’t as much time for teams to separate themselves from the pack, and that might lead to a very tight race between a lot of teams for playoff spots until the very last day.