It’s tougher to make an opponent pay for hitting your teammate when that opponent can handle things in a fight.
Boston Bruins forward Noel Acciari clearly was angered when he saw his teammate Joakim Nordstrom suffer a questionable hit by Detroit Red Wings winger Luke Witkowski. In a short but violent and spirited fight, it seemed like Witkowski got the best of Acciari.
Either way, the replays in the video above are pretty entertaining, if you’re into fights. It wasn’t an epic, mind you, but some of the shots are pretty compelling.
NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Sunday night’s matchup between the Boston Bruins at the Detroit Red Wings. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
On one side, you have the Bruins, a team hoping to cement its hold on the second seed in the Atlantic Division, and thus a round of home-ice advantage.
The Red Wings don’t face much in the way of stakes … yet they’ve been playing with pride lately, nonetheless. It might not help their tanking chances to win on Sunday, but try telling that to the players on the ice.
Brendan Burke (play-by-play) and Brian Boucher (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Mich. Pre-game coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. ET with NHL Live, hosted by Kathryn Tappen alongside Keith Jones and Anson Carter.
WATCH LIVE: Red Wings host Blackhawks on Wednesday Night Hockey
NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
The Blackhawks have won nine of their last 11 games (9-2-0), including seven straight wins from Jan. 20 – Feb. 10, to climb right back into the playoff race. On the morning of January 20, exactly one month ago, the Blackhawks had 41 points and were dead last in the NHL. Now, as of Tuesday morning, they have 59 points, and are just one point behind the Minnesota Wild, who currently owns the second wild card in the Western Conference.
Patrick Kane is having arguably the best year of his career, and should the Blackhawks rally to make the playoffs, he could perhaps win his second career Hart Trophy. He’s currently on a season-best 18-game point streak (40 points: 14 goals, 26 assists), and is averaging 1.53 points/game, which would be the best of his 12-year career. He has an assist in 17 straight games… only two players in NHL history have posted a longer assist streak than Kane – Wayne Gretzky (23 games – 1990-91) & Adam Oates (18 games – 1992-93).
Red Wings GM Ken Holland has been weighing whether he should try to sign some of the pending free agents or trade them – with a focus on Howard, Nyquist and Jensen specifically. Holland said he’d like to sign all three to extensions – and all three players have expressed a desire to stay – but a deal must work for both sides.
“I need to weigh which of them we consider re-signing because they can help us in ’19-20 and then we maybe need to do something to add to that in the summer of ’19 because if you just trade all those players away your team is worse,” he said. “So now you got to make moves to get back to where you’re at and even beyond and that’s hard to do in the summer.”
For the first time in his career, Mike Tirico will call play-by-play for an NHL game on Wednesday when the Red Wings host the Blackhawks. He’ll be joined in the booth by Eddie Olczyk and ‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst Brian Boucher. Pre-game coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. ET with NHL Live, hosted by Kathryn Tappen alongside Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Bob McKenzie.
Red Wings aren’t mad at Mantha for fighting, breaking hand
In the rare hockey fight featuring a player who normally uses their hands to score goals, there’s a tug-of-war. On one hand, you cringe at the risks of said hands being broken. On the other, you have to acknowledge the natural danger of the sport, not to mention the emotions that come from sticking up for your teammates.
Such thoughts come to mind when you consider Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha, who will miss four-to-six weeks after breaking his hand in a fight with Colorado Avalanche defenseman Patrik Nemeth.
(You can watch that fight in the video above.)
Sure, there’s the inclination to wish that someone else might have taken care of that dirty work after Dylan Larkin absorbed a hard hit, but can you really blame Mantha? As MLive.com’s Ansar Khan reports, Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill certainly did not.
“There’s inherent risk in playing hockey, there’s inherent risk in getting into a fight,” Blashill said. “He was sticking up for Larkin, who got his head run against the boards. I know this, he’d do it again. And I’m good with him doing it again. We want to make sure we’re sticking up for each other. You’re not going anywhere at any time if you got a team that’s selfish and doesn’t care about each other.”
If you want to get into the weeds, you can quibble a bit with Blashill’s further points. He compared fighting to blocking shots or taking a hit to make a play. That might be pushing it just a touch, as those events are more attuned with the moment-to-moment functions of actually playing the sport, while sticking up for your teammate is often a combination of a sheer, guttural reaction and also “sending a message.” Theoretically, you don’t literally need to fight to thwart a scoring chance or advance the puck down the ice.
But, overall, it’s tough to get too mad at Mantha … although, seriously, the Red Wings might want to at least consider talking to him about taking that step.
After all, this isn’t actually his first injury stemming from a fight. As Khan recalls, Mantha’s 2016-17 season ended after he broke his finger in a March 2017 fight with Luke Witkowski:
As a large human (listed at 6-foot-5, 225 lbs.), one can understand why Mantha would be especially willing to drop the gloves. It might be tough to discourage him from doing so, although you could also conjure images of all the goals he missed out on in late 2016-17, and now these five-to-six weeks.
Of course, there’s a cynical reason for the Red Wings to shrug their shoulders now, while maybe convincing him to change course later: they might be that much more likely to lose games with Mantha on the shelf.
While this has been a hit-or-miss season for Mantha (nine goals, 14 points in 27 games), he’s one of Detroit’s most important forwards. Perhaps injuries like these will cajole the Red Wings into further embracing their at-times-reluctant rebuild, maybe by not re-signing Jimmy Howard and instead selling off aging players for future assets? At this point, any excuse helps.
Fighting simply hasn’t been friendly to the Red Wings lately. In Mantha’s case, it at least felt like an unforced error, even though the results ended up being far more painful (literally and figuratively).
The Minnesota Wild played their third game in four nights on Sunday, but they managed to put an end to their two-game losing streak thanks to a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings.
The Wild got off to a rocky start, as they went down 1-0 at the 3:58 mark of the first period when Detroit managed to capitalize on a brutal Zach Parise turnover in the defensive zone. Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader eventually went on to beat Devan Dubnyk moments later.
Minnesota went into the intermission down a goal, but they finally got on the board thanks to a power play goal by Eric Staal, who has 13 points in his lat eight contests. The 33-year-old is up to 34 goals and 65 points in 66 games this season.
Parise then made up for his earlier mistake by giving the Wild a 2-1 lead less than three minutes later.
Minnesota eventually got two more goals from Jason Zucker in the third frame to put the game to bed.
The win allows the Wild to jump ahead of the Dallas Stars for third place in the Central Division. They also improved their stellar home record to 23-5-6 in 2017-18.
As for the Wings, they’ve now lost three games in a row. They now find themselves in 25th place in the overall standings.