BOSTON – The NHL hasn’t allowed their true heavyweights to drop the gloves in hockey fights all that often this season amid a continuing crackdown in fighting majors across the league.
But Adam McQuaid and Matt Martin were able to put on a classic old time hockey fight in the second period of Boston’s 6-5 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden, and it energized the crowd and the teams amid a truly entertaining, playoff-style game.
“It was an important game for both teams, I guess you would expect [some chippy play],” said McQuaid. “Go out and play hard, they’re trying to prevent us from doing something and we’re trying to prevent them from doing something. You’re going to get [a fight or two] when that’s the situation.”
It also left Martin dazed and bloodied after the Leafs tough guy caught a number of McQuaid right-hand punches to the head before finally getting dropped to the ice.
“That was obviously an amazing fight by both guys. They were really going at it. They’re both very honest players for their team and Adam, like I’ve said before, he’s always been a huge influence on a lot of guys,” said Patrice Bergeron. “He’s very quiet but he always works hard and goes about his business and stands up for his teammates. Right there that gave us definitely lots of energy.”
It all started when McQuaid threw a heavy hit on Auston Matthews against the end boards midway through the second period, and then Martin came looking for McQuaid to stand up for his young superstar. McQuaid was happy to oblige and both tough guys threw a series of haymakers that connected before Martin was finally dropped with a powerful right-handed punch.
Martin exited to the Maple Leafs dressing immediately after the bout with McQuaid, but he eventually returned to the game in a sign of good news for both player and team.
“Well, he came back [to the game]. I don’t like the situation. [Adam] McQuaid’s a tough kid; he’s a tough kid. McQuaid’s got a visor and a helmet; [Martin] has got no visor,” said Toronto head coach Mike Babcock. “I don’t like that scenario but that’s just the way it is. To me, it’s not fair. But Matty’s [Matt Martin] a real good teammate and does a lot for our young guys, and it’s good he’s okay.”
The fight did more than simply get the TD Garden crowd excited with a good, old-fashioned hockey fight, however. It also energized the Bruins as they engineered their comeback from three goals down in the second and third period, and Torey Krug’s power play strike three minutes after the McQuaid brawl was proof positive of that fact.
It was great to see the Black and Gold feed off the energy provided by McQuaid showing a little toughness during an intense game, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to get them a much-needed win in the end.