The Capitals-Penguins rivalry took on another chapter Thursday night when the latest thrilling encounter between the two rivals was marred by a fight that made one's stomach churn.
Washington's Jay Beagle was dropped by a thunderous right hand from Pittsburgh's Arron Asham in a total mismatch of a fight that erupted after the Caps winger received a roughing penalty on Pens star blueliner Kris Letang. Asham came to Letang's defense, and Beagle didn't have much of a choice but to drop the gloves with a rugged customer.
You can see the video here and above.
Asham's antics were all the buzz on Twitter after he signaled the international signs for "you're out" and "sleeping" as Beagle lay on the ice bleeding. That's bush league. We'll give Asham credit for owning up to his actions and calling the gestures "classless" after the game, but it was still a stupid move when he did it.
What bothers me more than anything was the momentary fear that Beagle wasn't going to get up. Today's NHL fighters are punching harder than ever. I hold my breath every time there's a knockout punch in this league.
Either way, there will not be any league discipline for Asham, according to this statement released by the NHL late Thursday night: "Nothing will come of the Asham incident. Asham was remorseful after the game and didn't realize how badly hurt Beagle was at the time of the incident."
Break up the Islanders!
Seriously, these young studs might very well make some noise this season. John Tavares was most impressive again, posting two goals and two assists in a 5-1 rout against the visiting Tampa Bay Lighting. Tavares seems to have taken a giant step in his play this season. He was good last season, but he looks great right now. He's stronger on the puck, quicker to the net and more decisive. Real impressive.
Don't believe in the Cup hangover?
Just ask the 2011 Stanley Cup finalists, Boston (1-3-0) and Vancouver (1-2-1), as they have combined for only two wins in eight games after Vancouver was dropped 2-0 in Detroit on Thursday. To Vancouver's credit, the Canucks played a decent road game in a tough rink in a back-to-back situation after playing the night before in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, ho-hum, the Red Wings are 3-0-0 to start the season and perhaps not too thrilled with all the experts (including this one) picking the Blackhawks to win the Central Division. Jiri Hudler, who didn't have a good 2010-11 season with the Wings in his return from overseas, has looked sharp early on and has three points (1-2) in three games.
The Devils survived the loss of veteran goalie Martin Brodeur to a shoulder injury and still beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 in a shootout. Brodeur, hammered by injuries over the past few seasons, told reporters after the game it wasn't serious. The Devils looked good in outshooting the Kings 37-27. Looking at the big picture, however, Brodeur's injury scare reminds us again that one day he won't be around. At some point, maybe this summer, it behooves the Devils to phone L.A. about Jonathan Bernier or Vancouver about Cory Schneider.
And back to Pittsburgh
Caps netminder Tomas Vokoun was hard on himself after getting shelled for five goals Monday night against Tampa Bay. He was terrific Thursday night against the Penguins, as the Caps were outshot 18-3 in the third period and 41-19 overall. Everyone take a deep breath in Washington. Your team is 3-0-0 and your new goalie will be fine.