As the Colorado Avalanche prepares for its opening-round playoff game against the Minnesota Wild Wednesday night in St. Paul, the smell of musky machismo is wafting this way from the great white north.
Specifically, the stench of promised payback is emanating from six-foot-seven-inch, 258-pound Saskatoonite Derek Boogaard, one of three confirmed tough guys on the Wild roster (the others being Todd Fedoruk and Chris Simon).
The unfriendly giant, whose violent ways were expertly detailed by City Pages editor Kevin Hoffman last year in a story that came complete with film clips seems to be calling out Avs forward Ian Laperriere.
Monsieur Laperriere's transgression? He allegedly violated hockey's code by getting into a brief scuffle with Wild skill player Marian Gaborik during last night's game. The brief encounter could hardly be called a fight--after all, can you really fight with a guy named Marian? -- but it was apparently enough to provoke Boogaard's blood lust.
"Obviously, I'm going to be playing in the first game," Boogaard told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. We'll see if somebody has a problem then."
As Count Floyd of the old Second City TV would have said: "Oooh, scary!"
Will Laperriere's knees be knocking in fear when he takes the ice Wednesday?
Based solely on the fact that he's six inches shorter and sixty pounds lighter than Minnesota's Thug-o-saurus, perhaps they should be.
But look at some other numbers courtesy of www.hockeyfights.com, and the picture grows a bit muddier.
Those stats show that Laperriere has fought twice as much as Boogaard this year -- but only half as well.
In fact, the website reports that the Avs forward ranks sixth in total fights this year, a Top-10 performance that should make any fan proud. He's fought twenty times -- close to a personal best.
The down side to all this aggressive behavior? The Montreal native has posted a somewhat less-than-impressive 8-6-6 record, a showing that would qualify him for borderline tomato-can status were he conducting his business in boxing shoes instead of on skates.
As for the dreaded Boogaard? He's dropped the gloves just ten times this year, but has a much higher winning percentage, posting a 7-2-1 tally, according to www.hockeyfights.com's expert analysts. It's also worth nothing that, based on the videotape, Boogaard is also much more likely to kill you.
Will either of the tough guys really be allowed to fight in the playoffs? Stay tuned to find out. And in the meantime, take comfort in the fact that it's Boogaard, and not certified Wild-man Chris Simon who's gunning for Laperriere.
That boy might just break a stick over your head. -- Andy VanDeVoorde