Revenge is doubly sweet for Blackhawks in 6-2 rout of Coyotes
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org February 7, 2013 9:41PM
Raffi Torres, Jamal Mayers
Updated: March 10, 2013 6:40AM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Nobody told Jamal Mayers to fight Raffi Torres.
Nobody had to.
“I realize what my job is at this point,” said Mayers, in his 15th season. “Obviously we have a pretty good memory of what happened.”
What happened was Torres’ devastating — and illegal — hit that sent Marian Hossa off on a stretcher with a concussion during the playoffs last April.
What happened on Thursday night — Mayers fighting Torres 2:35 into the game, and the Blackhawks running roughshod over the Coyotes in a 6-2 laugher at Jobing.com Arena that extended the Hawks’ remarkable start to 9-0-2 — might have finally put an end to the Raffi Torres Affair.
“What Jammer did was great for the team,” said Hawks goaltender Ray Emery, who improved to 3-0 on the season. “Put that to rest, kind of. But I think more important was to get the two points and stay focused, not let that whole situation get the best of us. And I think we did that.”
Two minutes into the game, Mayers — a guy who’s done this sort of thing before — shouted at Torres from the bench, essentially telling Torres he was coming for him. And when Mayers then jumped over the boards to take his shift, Torres — another guy who’s done this sort of thing before — immediately obliged.
Neither landing any convincing blows before they took each other down and were separated, each going off for five minutes for fighting.
“It still doesn’t excuse what happened,” Mayers said, “but give him credit that he was willing to go.”
Mayers said his role is to create momentum and energy for his teammates, and his fight seemed to have that effect, as the Hawks jumped out to a 4-0 lead after one period, including two 5-on-3 power-play goals by the red-hot Patrick Kane.
“It takes a lot of guts to do something like that,” said Patrick Sharp, who had three assists in his best and most active game of the season. “There was really no discussion of it in our locker room. We wanted to focus on playing hard and not get sidetracked by that stuff. Credit to Jamal for doing it, that’s the toughest job in the game. And I guess you could tip your cap to Raffi as well. He saw it coming. Good fight there, but it definitely fired us up and got us going.”
The Hawks chased Coyotes goalie Mike Smith with their sixth goal late in the second period. In less than five periods against Smith this season — including a 6-4 win here in the second game of the season, when Torres was still serving his 25-game suspension for the Hossa hit — the Hawks have 12 goals. Kane had two goals and an assist to stay just three points back of Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek in the scoring race, and the Hawks also got goals from Viktor Stalberg, Dave Bolland, Jonathan Toews — who undressed Torres on his way to the net — and Bryan Bickell.
The second line of Sharp, Bolland and Kane accounted for three goals and four assists, including slick passes from Kane to Bolland and Sharp to Kane.
“I told [Kane] on the bench that was the first time he ever came to me after a goal and said, ‘Nice pass,’” Sharp joked. “Usually it’s the other way around. That and the pass to Bolly, things like that only happen when he’s got the puck. He’s got the hot stick right now, you try to get it to him with time and space.”
It’s all good for the Hawks right now, who have played nearly a quarter of the season without having lost in regulation, despite having played just two home games. They repeatedly said they weren’t looking to target Torres, and that they wanted to get their revenge on the scoreboard.
Well, they got both.
These days, it seems, the Hawks get whatever they want.
“We feel good right now,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ve been playing well, been consistent in our games, [and are] getting a lot of contributions from a lot of guys. It seems like the chemistry and the mood of the room is as good as you can get, and it’s reflected in our play.”