Hockey is one of the only sports in the world where players are technically permitted to settle their differences by repeatedly punching each other in the face, which can result in some very entertaining tilts.
Fights no longer play the role they once did in the NHL. It’s rare for teams to reserve roster spots for enforcers, and while plenty of people have called on the league to eliminate brawls entirely, most players (and, for that matter, fans) would argue there’s value in being able to harness some frontier justice to prevent dirty plays (even though some evidence suggests that’s not necessarily manifested in reality).
However, it’s safe to say fighting is still alive and well based on what transpired during Thursday night’s contest between the Flyers and the Wild.
The first period was one for the ages thanks to the bad blood that reached a boiling point around ten minutes into the game, as the two teams treated fans to three fights over the course of 16 seconds.
Things kicked off when Minnesota’s Ryan Reaves lived up to his reputation as a veteran pugilist during a showdown with Nicolas Deslauriers where both men were able to hold their own.
Ryan Reaves and Nicolas Deslauriers drop the gloves straight off the draw for a heavyweight tilt#mnwild | #FueledByPhilly pic.twitter.com/n77POhaF1M
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) January 27, 2023
It didn’t take long for Wade Allison and Mason Shaw to get in on the action, as the two men also dropped the gloves around 15 seconds later (although it ended about as quickly as it started).
WADE ALLISON VS SHAW pic.twitter.com/VmkUTkhwvG
— Nasty Knuckles (@NastyKnuckles) January 27, 2023
The penalty box was already getting a little bit crowded, but Marcus Foligno and Zack MacEwen wasted no time punching their tickets to the sin bin on the ensuing faceoff to bring the punch-filled sequence to an end.
ZACK MACEWEN SAID MY TURN pic.twitter.com/CxYto72KOH
— TLY (@TheLibertyYell) January 27, 2023
That game also produced a non-fight-related highlight courtesy of Mats Zuccarello, who sealed Minnesota’s 3-2 victory with a gorgeous overtime goal.
OH. MY. GOODNESS. MATS ZUCCARELLO! 🤯 pic.twitter.com/oYEppVpdCr
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 27, 2023
It’s safe to say the fans who attended that game got their money’s worth.