Burns finally earns his fighting stripes
- Article by: Michael Russo and Judd Zulgad
- Star Tribune
- April 16, 2007 - 12:04 AM
The Wild has a 1-2 scoring punch in Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra. Maybe next season, the Wild will have a 1-2 fighting punch in Derek Boogaard and Brent Burns.
Burns would take the middleweights, of course.
Burns' fight in Friday's Game 2 with Ducks winger Chris Kunitz was not only his first brouhaha in the NHL, it was his first in hockey.
The 22-year-old defenseman said he hasn't been in a fight since he boxed at age 12.
But now that he's gotten his first one out of the way, maybe he'll try it more.
"It's like when somebody bungee jumps, it's probably scary the first time and then it's a rush," Burns said. "It wouldn't be fun if you were getting killed, but it was fun when you're not getting hit."
The fight came after Burns went to the defense of partner Keith Carney, who was taken down by Corey Perry.
"Everybody says [Kunitz] was pulling my hair, but I didn't know that," Burns said. "I didn't realize his gloves were off, but one of our guys was yelling at me to drop my gloves, so I did."
Enforcer Boogaard was in the penalty box at the time.
"I was pumped," Boogaard said. "I was yelling and screaming and yelling at him to keep throwing and not stop until he falls over. It was awesome."
Makes no difference
With the Wild having the last line change in Sunday's Game 3, Gaborik got his wish to match up against the Ducks' top line rather than against their checking line.
But Demitra, Gaborik, and center Wes Walz combined for no shots on goal in the Wild's 2-1 loss. Gaborik and Demitra had 10 shots between them in Game 2 playing against the Sami Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer and Travis Moen checking line.
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle predictably disagreed with Wild coach Jacques Lemaire's assertion that Anaheim is getting away with obstruction when asked about the subject Sunday morning.
"That's news to me," Carlyle said. "I've watched the game. I don't see the hooking and holding. I see players skating and moving into position."
But after Sunday's loss, Wild winger Brian Rolston said there is no mistaking what the Ducks are doing.
"The hold-ups are just unbelievable. Maybe they're the best team in the league at holding up," Rolston said sarcastically.
"They must be. Every time you chip it in, you're getting bumped before you get it. We have to fight through this thing. It's definitely frustrating to get in on the forecheck."
A big target
Boogaard, scratched in Game 3, feels he was under an officiating microscope in Games 1 and 2. The 6-7, 254-pound winger was called for 16 minutes in penalties. Two gave Anaheim power plays, and one evened up a situation in which George Parros initiated a confrontation.
"They don't like players like myself, I don't think," Boogaard said of the officials. "It's just the way it is. In junior I was almost a man against boys. They are kind of treating me the same way here. I don't think it's fair, but I'm just going to have to adjust to it and do the best I can."
Lemaire said Saturday that it was difficult to play Boogaard if he was being targeted.
"He's still effective, but he could be more effective," Lemaire said. "He's probably the most disciplined guy I know."It's tough when guys are punching you in the head and I'm sitting in the box for nothing," Boogaard said.
Wild defenseman Petteri Nummelin, scratched in Games 1 and 2, replaced Kurtis Foster in the lineup and scored the only Wild goal.
Wild winger Branko Radivojevic, skating with a visor after having his eye poked during a fight with Edmonton's Patrick Thoresen in the final week of the regular season, said he plans to wear one next season. "I go in front of the net, and you never know when you'll get a puck or a stick," Radivojevic said.
Minnesota's major pro sports teams now have a seven-game losing streak in the postseason. The last victory came when the Vikings defeated the Packers in the wild-card round in January 2005. The Vikings lost the next week to Philadelphia. Next up was the Twins, swept in October 2006 by Oakland, and now there's the Wild.
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