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The Canucks And Fighting Part 1: How And Why The Canucks Fought In 2018/19

The subject of fighting in the National Hockey League has been subject to much questioning lately—specifically, questions about whether or not it will continue to be a part of hockey in the face of increased awareness of brain injuries and an overall downward trend.

Such questions are too complex and layered to be answered in a single blogpost, but what we can do is zero in on the future of fighting as far as the Vancouver Canucks are concerned.

The first stop on our two-part tour will take a good look at how and why the Canucks dropped the gloves throughout the 2018/19 season—before Part 2 takes an even gooder look at whether or not it is necessary for them to continue doing so in the future.

The Canucks fought just 13 times in 2018/19—matching their total from the previous season—according to HockeyFights.com. It was the first time in several years that the team’s total didn’t decrease.

Speaking of our sister site, we’ll be using HockeyFights.com’s definition of a fight in this analysis—meaning that at least one of the participants picked up a five-minute major for fighting. That means that a few kerfuffles—like Erik Gudbranson’s devastating uppercut on Danick Martel, will not be included.

 

Fight #1

Erik Gudbranson vs Travis Hamonic

1st Period, October 3, 2018 

Why Did This Fight Happen?

Gudbranson was asked to “answer the bell” after an earlier questionable hit on Dillon Dube. 

How Did The Canuck Do?

Gudbranson demolished Hamonic, breaking his jaw in the process.

Did The Canucks Win This Game?

Yes. 5-2 victory.

 

Fight #2

Bo Horvat vs Noel Acciari

2nd Period, October 20, 2018 

Why Did This Fight Happen?

Horvat was immediately called to task for a clean but hard hit on an unsuspecting Joakim Nordstrom.

How Did The Canuck Do?

A dominant victory. At one point, Horvat ragdolled Acciari with one hand while raining down punches with the other—before mercifully allowing Acciari to regain his balance.

Did The Canucks Win This Game?

Yes. 2-1 overtime victory.

 

Fight #3

Darren Archibald vs Torey Krug

3rd Period, November 8, 2018

Why Did This Fight Happen?

Near the end of a lopsided game, Krug overreacted to a strong hit by Archibald on Joakim Nordstrom and chased Archibald down for a fight. Interestingly, this was the second consecutive Canucks fight caused by a hit on Nordstrom.

How Did The Canuck Do?

Archibald pummelled the much smaller Krug with ease.

Did The Canucks Win This Game?

Yes. 8-5 victory (that had already been decided when the gloves were dropped.)

 

Fight #4

Darren Archibald vs Cody McLeod

2nd Period, November 12, 2018

Why Did This Fight Happen?

McLeod didn’t really give Archibald a choice, instigating an altercation in an apparent attempt to spark his team.

How Did The Canuck Do?

Archibald was quickly overwhelmed by the more-experienced McLeod.

Did The Canucks Win This Game?

No. 2-1 loss.

 

Fight #5

Antoine Roussel vs Brandon Tanev

2nd Period, November 19, 2018

Why Did This Fight Happen?

With the Canucks down 4-1, Roussel went right after Tanev on a faceoff in an attempt to turn the momentum of the game.

How Did The Canuck Do?

Roussel definitely won, but with a caveat. Many of the punches that Roussel landed came after Tanev had fallen to the ice, which is strictly against “the code” and cost Roussel a misconduct.

Did The Canucks Win This Game?

No. 6-3 loss.

 

Fight #6

Ben Hutton vs Cedric Paquette

2nd Period, December 18, 2018

Why Did This Fight Happen?

Brock Boeser grabbed Paquette in response to a questionable hit on Elias Pettersson—in a game full of questionable hits—and Hutton stepped in to pull Paquette off of Boeser. 

How Did The Canuck Do?

Hutton quickly pounded Paquette to the ice with a couple hard right hands.

Did The Canucks Win This Game?

No, 5-2 loss.

 

Fight #7

Antoine Roussel vs Yanni Gourde

2nd Period, December 18, 2018

Why Did This Fight Happen?

Gourde instigated the fight after Roussel ran him into the turnbuckle in a game that was already full of rough stuff.

How Did The Canuck Do?

Roussel worked Gourde over, forcing him to a knee with several raining rights.

Did The Canucks Win This Game?

No, 5-2 loss.

 

Fight #8

Tim Schaller vs Ben Harpur

1st Period, January 2, 2019

Why Did This Fight Happen?

Schaller was looking to keep his spot in the lineup after several healthy scratches in a row by taking on a much larger opponent. Earlier, Schaller was seen on camera asking Mike McKenna for notes on Harpur’s fistic abilities.

How Did The Canuck Do?

Schaller definitely bit off more than he could chew in this one, and was jerseyed and pummelled before the linesmen stepped in to save him.

Did The Canucks Win This Game?

Yes, 4-3 overtime victory.

 

Fight #9

Erik Gudbranson vs Michael Haley

1st Period, January 13, 2019

Why Did This Fight Happen?

Gudbranson was attempting to make Michael Matheson answer for his concussing of Elias Pettersson, and Haley stepped in to protect the cowardly Matheson.

How Did The Canuck Do?

At the very least, Gudbranson ensured that Matheson had to eat his fair share of vicarious punches through the sturdy face of Haley. 

Did The Canucks Win This Game?

Yes, 5-1 victory.

 

Fight #10

Josh Leivo vs Ryan Kesler

1st Period, February 13, 2019

Why Did This Fight Happen?

Kesler was harassing Elias Pettersson, and Leivo noticed and chased Kesler down for a fight.

How Did The Canuck Do?

The bout was close, but the veteran Kesler probably had the overall edge.

Did The Canucks Win This Game?

No, 1-0 loss.

 

Fight #11

Erik Gudbranson vs Ryan Getzlaf

2nd Period, February 13, 2019

Why Did This Fight Happen?

Gudbranson called Getzlaf to answer the bell for his “accidental” collision with Jake Virtanen earlier in the game—a play that resulted in an injury to Virtanen. 

How Did The Canuck Do?

Getzlaf did his darnedest to hold Gudbranson off, but the Canuck still managed to land several solid blows.

Did The Canucks Win This Game?

No, 1-0 loss.

 

Fight #12

Zack MacEwen vs Barclay Goodrow

2nd Period, February 16, 2019

Why Did This Fight Happen?

In his first callup from the AHL, MacEwen was looking to prove himself—and Goodrow obliged with his team trailing.

How Did The Canuck Do?

“The Big Guy” laid a big whooping on Goodrow while alternating between lefts and rights.

Did The Canucks Win This Game?

No. 3-2 loss.

 

Fight #13

Luke Schenn vs Michael Haley

1st Period, April 2, 2019

Why Did This Fight Happen?

After the Canucks scored an early goal, Haley challenged Schenn in an attempt to spark the Sharks—and Schenn obliged in an attempt to further justify a new contract. 

How Did The Canuck Do?

Schenn got literally bent over in this one, and worked over pretty convincingly.

Did The Canucks Win This Game?

Yes, 4-2 win.

 

2018/19 Fighting By The Numbers

Who Fought?

Erik Gudbranson- 3

Darren Archibald- 2

Antoine Roussel- 2

Bo Horvat- 1

Ben Hutton- 1

Josh Leivo- 1

Zack MacEwen- 1

Tim Schaller- 1

Luke Schenn- 1

How Many Of Those Fighters Are Still With The Team?

With the in-season departures of both Gudbranson and Archibald, the Canucks lost their two most frequent fighters and more than a third of their total fights—though we’re working with a pretty small scale here.

When Did The Canucks Fight?

The Canucks fought five times in the 1st period, seven times in the 2nd period, and just once in the 3rd period.

Why Did The Canucks Fight?

Answering the Bell- 4

An Opponent Trying To Spark Their Team- 2

Responding To A Hit On Elias Pettersson- 2

Proving One’s Self- 2

Responding To A Hit On Jake Virtanen- 1

Trying To Spark The Team- 1

Actually Protecting Pettersson From Harm- 1

How Well Did They Fight?

The Canucks won nine fights and lost four fights. Many of their victories were quite decisive. In other words, the Canucks fought quite well—if not often—in 2018/19.

Did It Impact The Boxscore?

Not really. The Canucks performed slightly better than their overall average in games in which they fought—with a record of six wins and five losses. Interestingly, the Canucks were 5-1-0 when they fought in the first period of a game, suggesting that perhaps there is something to the notion of an early scrap to spark the team.

Compared To The Rest Of The League

Overall, the NHL had its lowest rate of fights-per-game in recorded history, with a rate of just 0.19. Fans attending a Vancouver Canucks game had even less of a chance at seeing a bout than the average league attendee, with the Canucks involved in only 0.16 fights-per-game.

Conclusion

With only one fight from the 2018/19 season looking like an actual preventative measure against the Canucks’ star players getting injured—and little if any correlation between fighting and on-ice success—it’s difficult to see the relevancy of pugilism in the Vancouver organization moving forward. Later this week, we’ll take a close look at just how many gloves fans can expect to be dropped in the coming seasons.

  • I disagree about the Canucks fighting served no purpose. You can further get rid of the fights to spark the team or to prove themselves. I’d also like to get rid of the fights following a clean hit, they seem ridiculous. But the fights in retribution for other player going after Pettersson and Getzlaf’s cheap “accidental” hit on Virtanen are exactly why the league has fighting. I guarantee you Pettersson and other smaller skilled players appreciate their teammates standing up for them and it helps with team morale.

  • Fighting has its place in a sport where very large men skate at high speed and carry a stick!
    What causes more concussions elbow shots to the head or two men squaring off in a fair fight. If a team knows no one on the roster will push back, then look for a long night of questionable hits.
    A hypothetical. A larger team goes into a game with a smaller faster team with no fighters on that team. What will they do? Look at the ref to save them every time there is a hard hit? You don’t have to have a goon line, but knowing the “team” won’t take their stars being run is a big deal.

    • Fight #7
      “Gourde instigated the fight after Roussel ran him into the turnbuckle in a game that was already full of rough stuff.”

      Less than 2 minutes later Stecher is in concussion protocol. Coincidence?

  • Back in the day the old Domi/Probert battles while entertaining really served no purpose other than to make the NHL look like UFC. But fighting in today’s game? Let’s ask Canucks fans: Do you want some zinjanthrapoid manhandling Petey or QH without retaliation or pushback? Fighting IMO still has its place but in a much more limited capacity. I subscribe to the Brian Burke philosophy where he states in effect that teams must protect their own stars because the refs and the league are not going to do it. Ever.

  • So, these guys fought and look to remain with the team (at least in some capacity):

    Antoine Roussel
    Bo Horvat
    Ben Hutton
    Josh Leivo
    Zack MacEwen
    Tim Schaller
    Luke Schenn

    I think we are okay.