NEW YORK – When the puck dropped in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday to start the Capitals Rangers game, so did the gloves.
After the Monday night incident where Capitals striker Tom Wilson hit a recumbent Pavel Buchnevich and then Artemi Panarin – and the league only hit Wilson with a fine for hitting Buchnevich on the wrist – the Rangers struck.
First, the Rangers released a statement Tuesday criticizing the NHL for lack of suspension and calling for the dismissal of George Parros, head of the NHL’s player safety division.
MORE: What happened Monday night? | Wilson avoids suspension | Rangers respond
On Wednesday, the Rangers reacted on the ice.
There was a fight right after the opening game. Centermen Kevin Rooney and Nic Dowd chatted and then dropped their gloves before the puck could hit the ice. They were joined by the Rangers wingers Phillip Di Guiseppe and Colin Blackwell, as well as the Capitals wingers Carl Hagelin and Garnet Hathaway. Hagelin, the former ranger, competed against Blackwell.
There are no heavyweights in these matchups. And the retribution didn’t stop there.
After Wilson – Public Enemy No. 1 – stepped onto the ice, defense attorney Brendan Smith – one of the few Rangers with fighting under his belt – was walking right behind him. Smith received a 17-minute penalty, including two for incitement. Based on his teammates tapping the glass from inside the box or tapping the bench with their sticks, the Rangers think the extra two were worth it.
“You saw what happened the game before … I don’t think I had beef with anyone on your team,” said Smith. “I thought it should have been handled before this game and it wasn’t so unfortunately it had to be kind of on my shoulders and I thought I took it.”
MORE: Rangers ‘disappointed’ Wilson not suspended, call George Parros ‘unsuitable’ to keep NHL players safe
Although Wilson had to drop his gloves in response for his actions, the fighting didn’t stop there. Next up was Long Island kid Anthony Bitetto versus Michael Raffl and Ryan Strome versus Lars Eller.
“I definitely think we felt the need to take matters into our own hands,” said Strome, who tackled two for tripping and a 10-minute misconduct in the third. “I thought it was a great answer. I think it really showed a lot from our team. Of course we know that they are a big, strong group over there and we have hats to them too because they hit the bell and up to the challenge because I think they knew our frustration. We resolved it and moved on and played the rest of the game. I was happy with our group. “
Six fights and 72 penalty minutes were distributed in the first five minutes of the game. At the end of the period, the total was 100 penalty minutes.
Nobody expected it; After all, the Rangers don’t have a prototypical tough guy on the squad.
Don’t tell this to the guys who lined up for the opening game – or anyone on the roster.