Something very strange has been happening in Detroit in the early parts of the 2016-17 season.
The Red Wings … are fighting. A lot.
This is a strange development because not only fighting has been rapidly decreasing across the league for several years now, but also because the Red Wings have been last in the league in fighting majors in 10 out of the past 11 seasons. The one year over that stretch they were not last (2012-13) they were 29th. Nobody fights less than these guys.
In most of those years they never even reached double digits in fighting majors, and have only had eight in each of the past two seasons.
But through the first five games this season they already have five of them, and that includes a rather stunning participant on Friday night during their 5-3 win over the Nashville Predator — 20-year-old forward Dylan Larkin, the team’s leading goal-scorer from a year ago and a top-five finisher in the Calder Trophy voting.
He dropped the gloves with Predators defenseman Yannick Weber early in the third period on Friday night.
Have a look.
According to the Hockeyfights.com database (all fighting stats listed here are via their database) that is Larkin’s first ever fight. And not just in the NHL, but apparently anywhere in hockey. He seemed to handle himself quite well. But let’s be honest, the Red Wings probably do not want to see the guy that is probably their best offensive player risking injury to drop his gloves and fight somebody.
As mentioned above, the Red Wings already have five fighting majors this season a number that currently leads the NHL. No other team in the NHL has more than three.
When it comes to their actual play on the ice the Red Wings have now won three games in a row after the starting the season 0-2.
They received a little bit of extra help late in the third period on Friday when protecting a one-goal lead they were given a full two-minute, 5-on-3 power play in large part because of Predators forward James Neal taking one of the worst penalties of the season when he cross-checked Alexey Marchenko after the play.
Neal’s teammate, Calle Jarnkrok, was already penalized on the play for high-sticking Darren Helm. Those two penalties pretty much ended whatever comeback hopes Nashville had on the night as Helm ended up scoring a power play goal with 22 seconds to play.