The Art and Strategy of Fighting in the NHL

by: Tyler Murry: Majority Writer: Hockey (Boston Bruins)

One of the most exciting yet controversial subjects in hockey today, fighting is not simply an eruption of emotions, but a strategical boost to a team’s energy and morale. It attracts all ages with its excitement and restoration of “Old Time Hockey”.  If you look around the league at players who are considered ‘fighters’ or ‘goons’ you see players like Chris Neil, Ryan White, Daniel Carcillo, Ben Eager, and even Boston’s own Shawn Thornton.  The reason players like these fight is for two reasons.  One is to stick up for a teammate and the other is to pump up their own team. 

Many times during games players target the other teams star players with bone-crushing hits to throw them off their game.  That is when a player like Shawn Thornton steps in and picks a fight with someone to stick up for that teammate or protect him.  Many star players in the NHL are small and fragile and their team’s season could be destroyed if they were to be injured.  Therefore, having a tough guy who can fight and protect your players is essential to the team and the game of hockey in the NHL.  In reality, goons help keep players on the ice, which ultimately makes the game better for everyone involved.

The next reason players fight is to help boost a team.  Often times when a team is down 2 or 3 goals or is playing poorly, a player will go out and pick a fight to try and boost the players on the bench.  This “boost of energy” caused by the fight has often times turned the game around and been exactly what the team needs to win the game.

Even though fighting is at times sloppy and ill-timed, it can be used in strategy and is essential in protecting players and hockey in general here in the NHL.  

Top Free Agents Still Out There

by Tyler Murry: Majority Writer: Hockey (Boston Bruins)

For my third article here with The Boson Hot Spot I decided to take a brief look at some of the free agents around the league that are still available for teams to sign and where they might go.  This article will only pertain to unrestricted free agents. This is because you can count on your hands the number of restricted free agents that have gone to different teams in the past decade or so. Therefore I want to focus on free agents that will likely be changing locations.  Lets get right to it.

5. Kyle Wellwood: Previous Team- San Jose  Last Year Stats 35 GP: 5G-8A-18P

Once again injuries have sidelined Wellwood but with that being said, he is one of the best two-way centers available that will shut down opposing offenses and still be able to contribute in the offensive zone.  I think a contender like Detroit could use his services to shut down opposing teams.  Detroit struggled at keeping the puck out of the net and this caused their early exit in the second round and would be stronger defensively with Wellwood in the lineup.

Possible Destination: Detroit Red Wings

4. Chris Campoli: Previous Team- Chicago  Last Year Stats 77 GP: 4G-17A-21P

I am still shocked this guy has not been picked up.  He is 27 years old and is a very productive defensemen that can play well in the defensive zone and put up the numbers on the score sheet.  A team like Nashville could use a guy like this to strengthen the back half of the blue line.  They have the cap space and with Weber and Suter already in the mix, Nashville will be a team to watch next season.

Possible Destination: Nashville Predators

3. Bryan McCabe: Previous Team- New York Rangers  Last Year Stats 67 GP: 7G-21A-28P

At age 36, McCabe still has a booming shot and good vision, which allows him to move the puck very well.  He would be a great pickup for a team looking for a puck-moving defenseman.  Montreal would be a likely destination as they are searching for someone to fill the spot left by James Wisniewski.  The Canadiens have been known to sign players late in their careers at a large price (Mike Cammalleri, Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez, Erik Cole) and will do it again if they have too.

Possible Destination: Montreal Canadiens 

2. Ray Emery: Previous Team- Anaheim  Last Year Stats 7W-2L GAA 2.28

Emery has been haunted by injuries the past few years but when healthy, he is a top 15 goalie in the NHL.  He has great fundamentals, stays square to the shooter and never gives up on a play.  Although he has not played much, his numbers are great and many teams could us his services.  Teams that might be in the mix include Chicago and Winnipeg but the most likely destination would be Phoenix.  There is a gaping hole between the pipes for the Coyotes and they signed Mike Smith to fill it.  Smith simply won’t make the cut as a starting goalie and has proved that in his prior tenure with Tampa Bay.  Therefore, Phoenix should look to Emery for support in net.

Possible Destination: Phoenix

1. Teemu Selanne: Previous Team- Anaheim  Last Year Stats 73 GP: 31G-49A-80P

This 41 year-old winger is a hall of famer without a doubt.  He put up great numbers last year even at over 40 years old.  He is coming off knee surgery so we will have to see how that affects him and has considered retirement, but I believe we will see him lace up the skates for at least one more year.  If he decides to play, where will it be?  The answer is Anaheim.  He has played there for the majority of his career and will likely return but you never know if a real dark horse could sweep in and entice the superstar.  Selanne wants to win again so maybe just maybe a team like Detroit with a legitimate shot at winning could make a good pitch, but other than that he will likely return next year as a member of the Anaheim Ducks.

Possible Destination: Anaheim Ducks  

by Kevin L. 
NHL free agency opened July 1st. The Bruins have made no major signings yet, but they have made some signings, which I listed below (according to
Re-Signed by Boston:
Trent Whitfield- Center. Whitfield was an anchor for Providence’s top line this year (I witnessed his skills in person at a P-Bruins game) and may be a fourth-liner for Boston next year. Expect him to compete for a roster spot, because at age 34 it is now or never for Whitfield. Boston, however, sees otherwise and signed him to a two-year deal.
Anton Khudobin- Goalie. Khudobin has been the goalie for the P-Bruins this year (I witnessed his skills in person as well) and has a major roadblock ahead of him in the name of Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask. If Rask is traded, which the Bruins hopefully are considering, then Khudobin could be the leading backup goalie candidate heading into the 2012 campaign. He was re-signed to a two-year deal.
Left the Bruins:
Tomas Kaberle- Defense. New team- Carolina. The Hurricanes signed Kaberle, our infamous trade deadline acquisition of last season who failed to quarterback the powerplay effectively. Carolina signed him to a 3 year, 12 million dollar contract.
Michael Ryder-Right Wing. New team- Dallas. Ryder is the arguably best free agent the Bruins have, and he was lost to Dallas. Dallas signed him to a 2-year deal worth 7 million dollars.

Boris Valabik- Defense. New Team- Pittsburgh. The 25-year-old Valabik will join the Penguins for one year and 550K. Valabik is not expected to make Pittsburgh’s top six D-men. 

Unrestricted Free Agents still available for the Bruins (or other teams) to sign:
Mark Recchi- Left Wing. Recchi is 43 and will retire. His Cup experience was useful for the B’s this year.
Shane Hnidy- Defense. I watched Hnidy at a P-Bruins game, and the 35-year-old D-man has no 2012 team yet. 
Others- David Laliberte, RW, Kirk McDonald, RW, Jeremy Reich, LW, Nolan Schaefer, G.
Restricted Free Agents still available for the Bruins (or other teams) to sign:
What’s the difference between restricted and unrestricted free agents?
Brad Marchand- Left Wing. The 23-year-old Marchand was an integral part of the Bruins’ charge to the Stanley Cup and needs to be re-signed.
Others- Stefan Chaput, Center, Cody Wild, Defense, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Defense, and Matt Dalton, Goalie.

-Your Bruins Writer 

SPOTLIGHT ON: Bruins #1 Pick Dougie Hamilton
by Kevin 
The Boston Bruins drafted defenseman Dougie Hamilton 9th overall in the NHL Entry Draft last week. Hamilton is an athletic defenseman and has played well in the OHL for the Niagara IceDogs. This selection may be an attempt to find a replacement for Tomas Kaberle, due to Kaberle’s inability to quarterback the powerplay in their Stanley Cup run. For more on Hamilton, watch this video:


-Your Bruins Writer 

TEAM PREVIEWS: Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators
by Kevin Linsey
Last season: Lost to Flyers in the first round
Prediction: 2nd in Northeast division, loss to Tampa Bay in first round
The Sabres always seem to make a low seed in the playoffs and make some noise. The leader of their team is their goalie, Ryan Miller, who backstopped the U.S. national team to the gold medal game at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. While many of their skaters and D-men aren’t widely known, they are good at jelling as a team.
Stars: Miller, Thomas Vanek
Note: Yesterday, Buffalo signed D-man Christian Ehrhoff, formerly of the Vancouver Canucks, who scored 50 points for them last season.

Last season: Last in Northeast Division, missed the playoffs
Prediction: Last in Northeast Division, miss playoffs
Ottawa is a team in transition. A few years back, their team looked primed for a Cup run, with C Jason Spezza, LW Daniel Alfredsson, and G Pascal LeClaire. By the end of that season, their team was in shambles, Spezza was injured, and Brian Elliott (who?) was the starting goaltender. This season, they were terrible and they only got 74 points. The only teams to score less were Florida, Edmonton, and Colorado. While they get high draft choices, you can’t expect them to compete in this tough division anytime soon.
Stars: None (that’s why they came in last)

-Your Bruins writer 


by Kevin L. (June 22, 2011)


Your Bruins writer here with the first NHL team profile, of your Boston Bruins. I will write two profiles each THURSDAY, so stay tuned until we have reached all 30 teams. I will try to go in the order of Bruins first, then divisional opponents, then conference opponents, then the Western Conference. I will touch on their star players, success and final placement and playoff success, if any, this past season.
Last Season: Won Stanley Cup 4-3 over Canucks
My Prediction for this season: Loss in Cup Finals
The Boston Bruins are symbolized around the league by their 6’ 9’’ defenseman, Zdeno Chara. He is regularly paired with Dennis Seidenberg on blue line pairing #1.
Other stars are David Krejci #46, Brad Marchand #63, Mark Recchi, Marc Savard #91, and Tim Thomas in net.
What the Bruins need: Not much. This club won the Cup, and the only thing I can think of that they need is a display case for that Cup and money to sign these guys so they keep winning.
NHL draft choice: #9. They will likely choose the best player available here, with no clear need.
Last Season: Lost to the Bruins in the first round of the playoffs
My Prediction: Third place Northeast Division, and a first round playoff exit in a loss to Philadelphia.

The Canadiens are hated enemies of our Bruins and play in Montreal. They are, sadly, the winningest NHL franchise ever.
Stars: Montreal has little in terms of superstars but has a lot of talented, scrappy players who can come up with clutch goals. They rally behind goaltender Carey Price.
What Montreal needs: A superstar. To make a title run, the Canadiens need a Rick Nash-type star. 
NHL draft choice: 17. 
-Your Bruins Writer


by Kevin L. (June 21, 2011)
It’s the Boston Hot Spot’s Bruins and NHL correspondent here with my first post. I will be commentating as often as I can about the Bruins and the NHL. You can expect half or so of my posts to be Bruins-related, and half or so to be about the NHL. The Bruins are one of my favorite hockey teams, along with the Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators, so expect some good coverage.
Enough about myself. On to the first post.
The NHL entry awards ceremony is Wednesday, June 22 and the NHL world is pumped up. This past season was incredible, with the hometown Bruins triumphing over the Vancouver Canucks in the seven game Stanley Cup finals. Bruins representatives are bolded in my rundown of the important awards.
The Hart Memorial Trophy- awarded to league’s best player
My Prediction: Daniel Sedin, LW, Van
I am a Canucks fan, and he had a phenomenal season with 104 points.
The Vezina Trophy- awarded to the league’s best goaltender
My Prediction: Tim Thomas, G, BOS
Tim Thomas was amazing in net for the Bruins in the playoffs, and is the indisputable Vezina trophy winner. I can’t imagine Roberto Luongo or Pekka Rinne of Vancouver and Nashville, respectively, winning this award.
The Norris Trophy- awarded to league’s best defenseman
My Prediction- Nicklas Lidstrom, D, DET
Lidstrom had a great year for a forty year old player, and I hate to pick against the Beantown’s Zdeno Chara, but Lidstrom is deserving. Watch out as Chara may win this award.
The only other Bruin nominated for a trophy is Zdeno Chara, nominated for the Bridgestone Messier Leadership Award. Chara will win this award, in my opinion.

More to be coming in future posts.
Have a great day.
Your Bruins Writer 

Taken in 2008, Bruins D Mark Stuart and Maple Leafs C John Mitchell engage in a fight. (picture courtesy of New York Times) 

Teemu Selanne (above) is the top NHL free agent still available, according to Tyler Murry. (picture courtesy of The Ice Hockey Blog)


Bruins 1st round draft pick Dougie Hamilton. (picture courtesy of CBS Boston.) 

Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (above) will try to lead Buffalo to a successful playoff appearance. (Picture courtesy of NHL Snipers). 



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