UPDATED: Nov. 6, 2015 1:43 p.m.
WASHINGTON — Despite their hot start (8-3-0), the Washington Capitals are winning with historically cool heads. Heading into Thursday’s game against the Boston Bruins, the Caps were one of just four teams to not log a fight in the 2015-16 NHL regular season.
According to Elias Sports Bureau statistics, this is the longest the Capitals have gone to start a season without a fighting major.
“We don’t like fighting,” coach Barry Trotz told the media on Monday. “From our standpoint, we have a couple of guys that will do that, but there hasn’t been really any takers…there hasn’t been anyone that’s really asked for his dance card.”
This is somewhat of a departure from the team’s philosophy in 2014-15 when the Caps finished tied for seventh in the NHL with 31 fighting majors. Tom Wilson led the squad with 12 bouts but has followed a team directive to be more selective in 2015.
“I think the fans like to see it, for sure. I know the fans like to see a win as well,” he said. “I get a lot more tweets at me saying I wish you had fought when we lost the game. When we lose, it’s, ‘Oh, I wish I had seen a fight tonight.’
“When we win, the fans are so caught up and so supportive of that, there’s really no looking for that.”
The Caps are part of a larger league decline in fighting, as fourth lines have become more competitive, shifting away from the enforcer lines of yesteryear. Only 20 percent of NHL games have had a fight so far in 2015, down from nearly 30 percent just two seasons ago.
“Gone are the days when you can just grab a guy and go at it,” Wilson explained. “There’s been pretty strict instigator rules applied by the NHL, so if you’re not careful and you start a fight, you end up getting an extra two minutes, and it puts your team down.”
That’s not to say that Wilson plans to change his stripes completely. The next time it strategically benefits the Capitals and an opponent accepts his “dance card,” Wilson relishes the responsibility.
“Honestly, it’s a very entertaining part of the game, the fighting. There’s nothing like it when there’s a fight. Everyone’s on their feet, and everyone’s going crazy, and that’s still going to happen,” he said. “Every team still has tough guys on it. It’s not that there’s no tough guys left.
“It’s that the tough guys are playing more and being smarter about taking penalties. It doesn’t have to happen every night.”
Of course, that all changed Thursday night. The Bruins were down 3-1 in the second period at the Verizon Center when Michael Latta dropped the gloves with Tyler Randell — the first fight of the season for the boys in red.
Watch the fight below:
[H/T Washington Post]