Everyone loves a great fight, and there are only two things NHL fans love more than it; a goalie fight and a coach fight. And on Tuesday, we nearly got it, as Dean Evason and Rick Bowness started screaming at each other from their benches.
It’s been a tight race for a spot in the playoffs in the Western Conference, but as the Jets won against the Wild Tuesday, Nashville Predators were eliminated from the playoff contention.
Both the Wild and the Jets will compete in the playoffs, and their contest last night displayed what’s yet to come because it was a testy one. And in the dying moments of the game, all hell broke loose.
Earlier in the game, Jets’ Neal Pionk was assessed a major penalty following a nasty cross-check on Marcus Johansson, who crumpled to the ice. Johansson could skate off on his own, but Wild’s coach Dean Evason was furious postgame.
“We want to play hard, and we want to play right — we don’t want to play like that,” Evason said. “That’s just stupid at the end. What for? What for? Like, play hard. If you want to fight, then fight. All the cheap stuff is wrong. Our group will fight if we want to fight. But the cheap stuff right now with one game to go before the playoffs? We’ve got a guy that might be out. He gets a cheap five-minute major at the end of a hockey game?
“It’s stupid. It makes no sense. It’s frustrating, for sure. Like I said, if you want to fight, fight. Great. Drop your gloves and fight. That’s what it’s there for. The cheap crap is not good.”
Evason responded to the cross-check by sending Ryan Reaves onto the ice, and he had a clear target in mind. At the 19:24 mats of the third period, Reaves finally got into a fight with Adam Lowry.
And that’s when Jets coach Rick Bowness started reacting. Bowness started screaming and swearing at Dean Evason from the bench, and the Wild coach responded in the most terrifying way imaginable.
Bowness seemed to gesture that Evason was too small, and Evason seemed ready to answer the bell. Postgame, Bowness shared his thoughts on what happened during the game’s final moments.
“They all know what was going on, they saw what the coach was doing out there,” he told reporters. “And our guys responded. And listen that’s a tough job. You gotta stand up there and battle like that. So our players again, there’s a good feeling in that room.”
We would all love a Wild-Jets matchup in the first round of the playoffs, but unfortunately, that won’t happen. But if they both reach the Western Conference Finals, we’ll get a matchup that everyone would love to see.