Last night, I was in Rogers Arena for the fight card, er, hockey game, between the Canucks and Flames.
Tension was in the air as soon as the Flames sent a bunch of their bruisers out for the opening face-off, including Brian McGrattan and Kevin Westgarth.
The Canucks responded by putting Tom Sestito and Dale Weise on the ice, along with 6'6" rookie Kellan Lain and two of the team's toughest defencemen, Kevin Bieksa and Jason Garrison.
It took two seconds before the fights began (see above).
After a line brawl, eight of the 10 were given game misconducts in addition to fighting majors. Westgarth also received a roughing penalty for his treatment of Lain, who was in his first NHL game.
McGrattan's blood-stained jersey was taken away; the ice around where he was fighting Sestito also needed a good clean-up.
Less than five minutes later, Canucks tough guy Zack Kassian was roughing up Lance Bouma.
And at 11:27, Kassian was egging on Shane O'Brien to fight. When O'Brien didn't respond, I lip-read Kassian calling O'Brien a "fucking pussy".
They were each sent off for 10-minute misconducts.
In a strange twist, Canucks coach John Tortorella approached the Flames dressing room after the first period, only to be pushed back by McGrattan.
Things settled down after that and eventually, Vancouver won 3-2 in the shootout.
So what can we conclude from all of this?
• The Canucks stood up for each other after the provocative opening move by Calgary coach Bob Hartley, whose team remains in sixth place in the Pacific Division.
• Tortorella's temper has seemed under control for most of the season, but last night he showed that he can still go berserk.
• Kassian seemed to thrive in this environment—he had a manic look in his eyes for most of the night.
• Vancouver still has trouble scoring, only notching two goals through the end of overtime. This came after the Canucks had managed only one goal in their last three outings.
• Kellan Lain's NHL debut was nearly as dismal as that of goalie Joacim Eriksson, who let in six goals in less than two periods against the Anaheim Ducks. Lain's family flew to Vancouver, only to see him ejected two seconds into the game. At least Lain held his own in a fight against a tough opponent, Westgarth.
• Roberto Luongo's glove hand was outstanding during the game and in the shootout.
• Dan Hamhuis is in exceptional physical condition, logging more than 36 minutes of ice time and earning first star from Hockey Night in Canada. Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, and Yannick Weber all played well in the absence of Bieksa and Garrison.
"It's about trying to get two points. I'm very happy with our club," Tortorella said after the game. "They stuck together and we found a way to get a couple."
When asked about the opening lineup, he said that he couldn't afford to put the Sedins at risk by putting them on the ice against the players chosen by Hartley.
"I thought my players responded tremendously," he said.
Tortorella also mentioned that he regretted putting Lain on the ice and he later apologized to all of his players in the brawl.
"But I'd do the same thing again if it came that way because I could not put anybody else out there not knowing what's going to happen," the Canucks coach said.