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Fighting and the Blue Jackets, a 2013/14 Review

Earlier today, Nick had asked his followers what they’d like to see tracked this season. One was from Mark [@CBJTherapy]:

Having seen some research done on this very topic, by Travis Yost [@TravisHeHateMe] here, and the Georgetown Sports Analysis website here, I wanted to see if it held true for the Jackets 2013/14 season.

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I didn’t expect this to turn into much, so my work was quite crude. I compiled a list of all the fights, as well as the score at the time of the fight, and whether the Jackets ultimately won or lost the game. The results speak to the idea that a fight does very little, if anything, to help determine the result of the game. The Jackets tended to fight more often in “close” games, and more often in the earlier stages of a game, or in the later stages of a blowout. The team fought in the first period 15 times, typical attempt at an early stage “momentum shift”, and in the third period of a “blowout” game seven times out of the 13 third period fights.

I didn’t keep track of who fought who at these moments, but that can easily be done by checking out the HockeyFights.com fight card of the Jacket season.

The results essentially bore out exactly what I thought they would: no trends as to when fighting could be seen as “momentum changing”, or even trends that would indicate that a fight had any impact on a game’s ultimate outcome in any way. About the only thing that really surprised me was that Columbus was seventh in the league in total fighting majors, with just 39. I had fully anticipated that 39 team fights would be 20th or lower. Watching The Games, it certainly didn’t seem to me as if the team fought enough to be considered top ten. I’m not sure if that means that my expectations were too high on how much fighting is around in the league, or the numbers are rapidly dwindling. I’m gonna call a push and say it’s a little of both.

Another thing I noticed perusing the fight card was just how mediocre the team’s fights were graded by the HockeyFights.com users. The top two fights of the season in entertainment rating were both rated under 7.0 – and both involved Dalton Prout! And as I mentioned on Twitter: hockey fighting is ultimately pointless and extremely dangerous, but for the short while it will still be part of the game, we may as well try and enjoy it.

So here’s the top three fights of the season, voted on by myself and the HockeyFights.com users:

3] Dalton Prout vs Mark Fraser, 11/25/13, CBJ @ TOR, 6.9 rating.

Prout actually had the most “entertaining” fight card of the season, taking on some good comers in decently-rated bouts. Here, Mark Fraser gets the better of him in a blowout fight. This one was a bit of that “policing the game” variety, as Fraser takes a run at Michael Chaput late in the game, and Prout jumps in to stand up for him. As was a running theme with the Leafs, their bonehead enforcer is standing next to Prout and tries to engage him well after business has already begun with someone else. Keep that in mind for a little later on in this list.

2] Dalton Prout vs Milan Lucic, 11/30/30, CBJ @ BOS, 6.2 rating.

I suppose we’re going to classify this one as a “momentum” fight here, as the Jackets were behind 2-0 and Boston was threatening again. Prout and Lucic joust a bit in front of the net after Prout had run Lucic into the end boards, and here we go. This was a pretty good back and forth tilt, but the most brutal attempted shots all narrowly missed. Probably for the better; there was an uppercut attempt by Prout towards the end that could have done some serious damage!

[Honourable Mention] Matt Calvert vs Nazem Kadri, 11/25/13, CBJ @ TOR, 5.3 rating.

Basically the definition of a blowout fight, as it’s 6-0 Jackets at the time of the scrap. Kadri with a big slash on Calvert, who immediately challenges him. Kadri is a non-fighter, and is a bit hesitant, but realizes when Calvert drops the mitts that he doesn’t have much choice. Calvert quickly dispatches him. The fight itself is less the reason this gets on the list, though. Remember what I mentioned about Leafs enforcers not doing their jobs? Yeah – watching David Clarkson standing right there uselessly as the talented player on his line gets manhandled by Calvert actually made me laugh. That’s pretty much the reason this one gets an Honourable Mention.

And your top CBJ fight of the year goes to…

1] Rick Nash vs Matt Calvert, 03/21/14 NYR @ CBJ, 5.1 rating.

This is almost a poster for why people defend and enjoy hockey fights. There’s a reason for this, a backstory, and it’s brewed out of more than “hey dude want to drop the gloves?” “uh ok man sure why not”. Simply: Nash and Bobrovsky had some beef, Bob obviously isn’t going to go, so in comes Matt Calvert to stand up for his goalie. Adding to the fire is that it’s at Nationwide vs the very divisive former star, and a big underdog vs giant tilt as well. Not a great fight as far as “technicality” goes, but man was this fun to watch.

Thanks for reading!

- Jeremy
Follow me on twitter, @307x

Jeremy Crowe

About Jeremy Crowe

CBJ, Toronto Blue Jays, beer.

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