There was a lot of weird things happening in the third period of the St. Louis Blues' home tilt against the Colorado Avalanche. Fights broke out throughout the period, but one that drew particular interest was when 29-year-old Blues captain David Backes went after 18-year-old rookie Nathan MacKinnon.
The play started fairly innocuously enough with Backes trying to finish a check on MacKinnon, albeit a tad late. MacKinnon actually got into a defensive stance and ended up pushing Backes off of him and to the ice. The two both ended up on the ice when MacKinnon got tripped up, then Backes went after the youngster.
Backes is listed at 6-3, 221, while MacKinnon comes in at 6-feet, 182 pounds. That's a mismatch in any scenario. Since fighting is allowed in the NHL, anyone can go, even 18-year-old rookies, but for Backes to engage the Avalanche star in a severe mismatch in both experience and size is questionable at best.
At that point, it was a 3-0 game and frustrations take over, but if Backes was really upset with how the game was going, he picked the absolute wrong target to take it out on. MacKinnon left the game after the scuffle and did not return.
Both players got roughing penalties and Backes got an extra for cross-checking on top of a 10-minute misconduct. There were a total of 24 penalties dished out in the third period of Saturday's heated contest.
Naturally, the Avs were none too pleased with Backes' act. Some players tried to jump in during the play, but tensions did not cool after the game. Most notably, head coach Patrick Roy shared his candid thoughts on the matter.
Patrick Roy on Backes going after MacKinnon: "To me, it's gutless from Backes. It shows what kind of leader he is." #stlblues— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) April 5, 2014
Harsh words from the fiery NHL legend, but not hard to understand why he'd be upset.
Backes had no business going after MacKinnon like he did. Even though the kid probably feels he could handle himself in that situation, it's not one he should be confronted with. If you ascribe to any kind of code, and it sure seems the code is a floating set of guidelines bent to fit whatever the situation may be, what Backes did is extremely disappointing. The game was essentially over at that point and he went after one of the Avalanche's more important players.
On top of that, it's generally frowned upon for a seasoned veteran to go after a rookie like that, especially one not likely to drop the gloves.
There was a lot of bad in that last period, though. Here's a look at the box score from NHL.com:
It looks like we could have the makings of a heated Central Division rivalry on our hands here, even if that third period was beyond ridiculous.
The Avalanche skated away with a 4-0 win, their 50th of the season, putting Colorado three points clear of Chicago with a game in hand for the No. 2 spot in the Central Division. The Blues meanwhile lost ground in their hunt for the President's Trophy as the Bruins picked up two points earlier Saturday to break the 111-point deadlock.