fights

Trash talk between Reaves, Kane almost as good as their fight

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Evander Kane was named after Evander Holyfield, but there’s a touch of Muhammad Ali to his trash talk with Ryan Reaves.

The two engaged in a positively terrifying fight during the Golden Knights’ 6-3 win against the Sharks in Game 3, after heated exchanges that Pierre McGuire described as minutes-long bits of almost certainly NSFW banter. While the material there is too “blue” for our innocent eyes and ears, the two weren’t shy about making their disdain public. From the sound of things, Game 3 might not be the last time they drop the gloves during this Round 1 series, whether the next bout happens in Game 4 (Tuesday, 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN; Live stream) or later.

On Monday, Reaves was asked if he gained respect for Evander Kane after that fight, and the answer seemed to be “not a ton.”

“Yeah I guess a little bit but not really a lot to be honest,” Reaves said, via Sin Bin Vegas. “I’m not really ever going to respect that guy.”

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Reaves went on to take a shot at Joe Thornton regarding Thornton’s suspension following a hit on Tomas Nosek, referring to Jumbo Joe as “grandpa” and joking that Thornton will have trouble seeing from the press box. Kane apparently heard about those comments, and they became a part of a multi-part takedown of Reaves. Shen Peng of Fear the Fin captured the trash talking glory of it all:

As you can see from that smorgasboard of smack talk, Kane made the following remarks:

  • That Kane was unharmed from the fight, and that he “expected more of a battle,” comparing fighting Reaves to fighting “The Muffin Man.” (Not totally sure what Kane is referencing, so here’s hoping it was this. Either way, that song has traveled back from my childhood and is now firmly planted in my head.)
  • Kane says that Reaves speaks as if he’s in WWE, and uses that as a way to throw a barb at Reaves as a player, wondering if Reaves might become a professional wrestler soon. Request: if Reaves does, can his gimmick be “The Muffin Experience?”
  • Most succinctly, Kane said “Nobody thinks of Ryan Reaves as a hockey player.”

Harsh.

As we saw with the Alex Ovechkin – Andrei Svechnikov fight, it’s easy to forget about what are often scary consequences to these fights. While both Reaves and Kane are more seasoned in that regard, there’s also even greater size and fighting experience involved, only making potential bouts more dangerous.

From the Sharks’ perspective, you also have to wonder if Reaves is accomplishing a lot by getting Kane off of his game. This feud isn’t just a distraction; Kane (and the Sharks) must be aware that any fight would mean taking Kane – who had 30 goals and 56 points during the regular season – off the ice for five minutes or more. Even those who believe that Reaves brings more than fisticuffs to the table would probably agree that such a tradeoff would be a huge win for the Golden Knights. The same could be said if both players were injured in a fight.

For fans of “old time hockey,” this is a rare treat, and there’s no denying the spectacle. The Sharks risk giving the Golden Knights an edge if Kane gets swept up in all of it at the wrong time, though. Kane fighting Reaves in a blowout was one thing, but tensions boiling over at the wrong time could end up hurting San Jose.

Then again, maybe an angry Kane might produce some big points with all of that extra motivation? We’ll see.

Golden Knights – Sharks Game 4 from T-Mobile Arena will be Tuesday night at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. (Live stream)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Buzzer: Eberle fights Konecny; Cole’s questionable hit

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Three Stars

1. Blake Wheeler

The Blue Jackets put forth a nice effort on Sunday, but they couldn’t stop Blake Wheeler. He scored four goals (a hat trick plus an empty-netter), including the game-winner as Winnipeg greatly impeded Columbus’ push toward a playoff spot.

Wheeler extended his point streak to six games (five goals, seven assists for 12 points), and he’s been especially hot lately, as he combined Sunday’s four goals with three points (one goal, two assists) from Friday.

The 32-year-old now has 80 points in 65 games this season, the second-best total of his career. He has a strong chance of meeting or passing his career-high of 91 points in 81 games from 2017-18.

2. Mark Scheifele

Wheeler was the only player to manage four points on Sunday, while Scheifele stood ahead of everyone beyond his winger with three (everyone else scored two or fewer).

Scheifele generated his three points via assists, finishing that win against Columbus with a +4 rating. The 25-year-old center now has 75 points in 65 games during the 2018-19 campaign, seven behind his career-high of 82 back in 2016-17.

3. Claude Giroux

Among the many changes over the years in Philly, there seems to be one constant when things are going well: Claude Giroux turning it up a notch.

Sure, they’ve received great goaltending from Carter Hart, and are now getting sneaky-good work from Brian Elliott after the veteran healed up from injuries, but Giroux still drives the bus.

Giroux generated two assists as the Flyers beat the Islanders on Sunday, pushing his point streak to five consecutive games (two goals, seven assists). Remarkably, Giroux’s generated multiple points in four of those five games.

Overall, the 31-year-old forward has 70 points in 66 games.

Unlikely fight

You wouldn’t expect to see a fight between Jordan Eberle and Travis Konecny, but that’s what happened on Sunday, and it was a pretty spirited affair:

Suspension coming for Ian Cole?

The Colorado Avalanche defenseman was ejected for this ugly knee-to-knee on Devin Shore:

Highlights

Filip Chytil‘s no-look assist is probably the best moment from these Caps-Rangers highlights, but you’d likely also be entertained by the way things finished (in Alex Ovechkin‘s favor):

Jakob Silfverberg has an argument for Three Stars inclusion with a goal and an assist, especially if you factor in cool points. What a great way to score his 100th goal:

Factoids

Scores

WSH 3 – NYR 2 (SO)
PHI 4 – NYI 1
VGK 3 – VAN 0
ANA 2 – COL 1
OTT 3 – FLA 2
WPG 5 – CBJ 2
NSH 3 – MIN 2 (SO)
SJS 5 – CHI 2

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Punching Chris Neil rallies Rangers

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Do fights really make a difference in hockey? That answer can vary during the regular season in particular, but they tend to have more potential to inspire during the playoffs. Katie Strang reports that the New York Rangers claimed that happened against the Ottawa Senators tonight when Brandon Prust dropped the gloves with lightning rod forward Chris Neil:

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Stay tuned for a Neil quote that surely will make him even more despised by the Rangers and their fans. (Yes, it’s possible.)

Players, coaches and even Bill Goldberg loved Devils-Rangers brawl

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John Tortorella wasn’t thrilled with the way last night’s New Jersey Devils-New York Rangers game began – with three fights on the opening faceoff – and he’s not alone.

Still, plenty of people have been vocal about their “approval,” as you can see in this article by Bill Beacon of The Canadian Press. From tougher guys like Montreal Canadiens player Ryan White to high-scoring New York Islanders forward John Tavares, plenty of people have shared their pleasure with the fights.

NBC’s own Keith Jones has spoken out against “staged” squabbles before, but the former Philadelphia Flyer couldn’t contain his glee for the unusual spectacle:

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It didn’t just entertain and excite hockey people, though, as professional wrestler (Bill) Goldberg hyped up the battle in a Tweet. (Who knows how excited he would have gotten if someone was “speared” during the fights.)

Brandon Dubinsky might regret fighting tonight

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The pressure’s been on for New York Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky to turn his season around, but perhaps he took the wrong course to make a big impact tonight. Dubinsky hurt his hand in tonight’s game against the New Jersey Devils and won’t return, according to Steve Zipay.

ESPN’s Katie Strang points out that Dubinsky hasn’t been in action since he dropped the gloves with Ryan Carter. It’s pretty easy to put two and two together on that one, wouldn’t you say?

Here’s the scuffle in question, via Hockey Fights:

Hope it was worth it …