A quick Wednesday afternoon discussion point.
On Tuesday, with his team having given up a two-goal lead and all of the momentum in the second period, Jamie Benn decided it was time to fight. He took a rather rude elbow from Nick Foligno as the two crossed paths, then a swipe of Foligno's stick to the hip, and the gloves hit the ice and the bout was on.
Jamie Benn doesn't fight too often, but when he does -- it has an impact.
Benn only has one or two fights per season at the most (he had four in 2010-2011), but he almost always comes out on top in his fights and nearly all of them are driven by the emotion within the game. Benn is a big body that likes to hit the opposition, hard, and more importantly he's shown the ability to stand up when his team needs him to to help turn the tide of the game.
Whether a fight can actually swing momentum in a game is debatable. Over the past few years, especially as the league has taken steps to try and make the game a bit safe and to curb the "staged fights" and bench-clearing brawls that gave the sport a bad reputation, the impact of a fight in hockey has come under fire.
I don't know about other fights, but on Tuesday night it certainly seemed to do the trick. Benn fought just before the end of the second period and didn't return until five minutes of game time later and while his team might not have scored with him out, the momentum certainly went back in favor of the Stars.
The chart above shows just how the Blue Jackets controlled the second period -- as soon as the third period began, however, the Stars simply didn't allow anything the other way.
The lone exception was a breakaway for Cam Atkinson, which came after an unfortunate blocked shot got past Jordie Benn. Other than that, the Stars were in full control from the moment of the fight onward.
Now, one could argue that the intermission immediately following Benn's fight helped as well, but the counter that is this: not one player could sit in that locker room after that fight by Jamie Benn and not feel the need to start the third period on fire. It woke the team up, and it's something that the coaches and his teammates agreed with.
This is why fighting shouldn't be completely taken out of the sport, and there really aren't too many people calling for this to happen (including myself). There are aspects to fighting in hockey that are concerning, especially in younger players, but only where it serves nothing but to detract from the game itself -- staged fights, the big brawls, the jumping of players to fight after a legal hit -- but this is where the emotion of the game becomes apparent.
Yet is Jamie Benn, the captain, the one who is supposed to ride that wave of emotion to a fight? The hockey people will almost assuredly tell you yes, that stepping up for his team when it was needed is what captains are supposed to do.
So now the question becomes - was Jamie Benn's fight worth the outcome? The risk is that the Stars' best player could get injured, break a hand or worse (and he did suffer a nasty cut below the eye) as well as the fact that Benn is then lost for five minutes of the game.
Benn doesn't fight often, but it does have impact. Was that impact worth it? You let us know.