Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

A good hockey fight's all about timing

TAMPA — There's a shiner under J.T. Brown's left eye, a reminder from Saturday's fight with the Ducks' Joseph Cramarossa.

But it's not like anyone who watched the old-school bout will soon forget it.

Brown — the 5-foot-10 wing — matched Cramarossa — 2 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier — punch for punch. Brown then wrestled Cramarossa to the ice, providing a spark in the Lightning's 3-2 shootout win.

"Whenever a guy stands in there and fights, everybody should be motivated by it," center Brian Boyle said. "You put yourself on the line, especially the way (Brown's) fight turned out. He took some punches, that was for us. We were sliding. When you talk about well-timed, for the season, it was very well-timed."

The Lightning (23-24-6) is literally fighting for its playoff life. Tampa Bay ranks third in the league in fights with 23, behind only Dallas (24) and Anaheim (33), according to hockeyfights.com. Brown leads the way with five, and his bout Saturday befitted what turned into one of the Lightning's most physical and impressive performances in recent memory.

"I'm small but I'm willing to fight," Brown said. "It's part of my game and part of helping the team. If a fight or scrum happens, I'm going to be one of the first guys to be in there."

Brown makes sure to be prepared. Before each game, he checks hockeyfights.com to find out who are the other team's top fighters. He'll spend 20-30 minutes watching their fights, trying to pick up tendencies.

"If he's going to throw a left, you want to be ready for it," Brown said.

With Cramarossa's clips, Brown noticed he would sometimes use his left hand with punches. Cramarossa also takes time to set up before a bout. "He likes to wait," Brown said.

Brown thought about waiting until later in the game to fight. Timing is one of the most important parts of fights, Brown said, as you don't want to lose momentum for your team. The Lightning had just scored midway through the first period, so that's not an ideal time.

But this bout was brewing between Brown and Cramarossa from a previous shift, when they were in a scrum in front of the net. Kevin Bieksa had cross checked Brown, who responded. Cramarossa stepped in. Brown asked him to fight.

"We said, 'Next shift,' " Brown said.

The next time Cramarossa jumped over the boards, he yelled, "Brown!" Brown was coming on the ice, too. He could have passed but didn't want to seem like he was ducking a fight.

"I'm like, 'All right, now is the time,' " Brown said.

Brown said it was a fun fight, a good one. It was more reminiscent of classic bouts from the 1980s than the typical clutching and grabbing in today's game. "We were both giving some good shots back and forth," he said. "Stood right in there."

Even if it meant some bruising on Brown's face.

"We had just scored so I kinda put the onus on me that it had to be a good one," Brown said. "More times than not, because of the situation, I didn't want to turn momentum in their favor. I took it upon myself to make sure it was going to be a good one, a lively fight. A lot more punches thrown, less defense.

"I was thinking about it right away right after we scored whether I should go or not. I went with it and thankfully it did energize us and the crowd."

And his teammates.

Times correspondent Rick Brown contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

Comments
The key to the Lightning’s success

The key to the Lightning’s success

This is quite the run the Lightning is on over the past five years.A playoff appearance in 2014. A trip to the Stanley Cup final in 2015. A return to the Eastern Conference final in 2016. A near-miss of the postseason last season. And now back in the...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Single-game tickets for the Lightning's Eastern Conference semifinal series go on sale to the general public at 1 p.m. Monday at nhl.com/lightning/tickets. The Lightning plays the winner of the Bruins-Maple Leafs series. Game 6 of that series is Mon...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Lightning has answer for Devils and David Puddy

Lightning has answer for Devils and David Puddy

You knew those who work the scoreboard for the Lightning games at Amalie Arena would have an answer Saturday during Game 5 to the Devils using David Puddy during Game 4 at the Prudential Center. Puddy meets Homer Simpson. Actually, Puddy met Terry ...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

TAMPA — As usual, Andrei Vasilevskiy didn't speak in front of the cameras after the game. He has been like that since he hit the NHL. He still isn't comfortable with his English on TV.But Vasilevskiy spoke loudly and clearly in the first-round ...
Published: 04/22/18
Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bay’s clinching 3-1 victory in Game 5

Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bay’s clinching 3-1 victory in Game 5

TAMPA — Closers.That's what the Lightning looked like as it closed out the New Jersey Devils in five games with a 3-1 win Saturday.Nikita Kucherov's star power blazed again, the defense controlled the game and not even Jersey goaltend...
Published: 04/21/18
Updated: 04/22/18
Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

BOSTON — Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk scored 1:19 apart in the second period, and then the Maple Leafs killed off a 5-on-3 and three more power plays in a row to beat the Bruins 4-3 in Game 5 on Saturday night and avoid playoff eliminatio...
Published: 04/21/18
Lightning-Devils: How the NHL’s top offense went on the defensive

Lightning-Devils: How the NHL’s top offense went on the defensive

TAMPA — It was a couple of days after the Lightning beat the Bruins at home late in the regular season when associate coach Rick Bowness talked about how the defensive effort used in that shutout victory was the one the Lightning would need in ...
Published: 04/21/18
Rookie? Lightning D Mikhail Sergachev’s playing like a seasoned pro

Rookie? Lightning D Mikhail Sergachev’s playing like a seasoned pro

TAMPA — Pardon Mikhail Sergachev if he isn't so good at one of hockey's greatest traditions. After all, growing a Stanley Cup playoff beard isn't easy when you're still just a teenager.As he stood in the Lightning locker room Saturday evening w...
Published: 04/21/18
Roger Mooney’s takeaways from the Lightning’s first-round series

Roger Mooney’s takeaways from the Lightning’s first-round series

TAMPA — In the postseason, teams want to bank days off so they are as fresh as can be for the next round. That's why it was so important for the Lightning to close out Jersey in five. The fewer the games, the less wear and tear on the body, les...
Published: 04/21/18
Lightning stays patient, even through 0-for-5 power-play drought

Lightning stays patient, even through 0-for-5 power-play drought

TAMPA — The Lightning so dominated the second period Saturday that the Devils had more penalties (five) than shots on goal (four), and yet Tampa Bay was unable to build on a 1-0 lead as they sought to clinch the opening-round series.Nowhere was...
Published: 04/21/18