Nolan Patrick was born to be a Flyer. The strong, two-way centerman has the skill to score make plays and score goals, and the grittiness to be physical when he has to.
The Philadelphia Flyers rookie earned his stripes on Thursday night when he dropped the gloves with David Krejci in a spirited bout for his first NHL fight. The crowd loved it, as did his teammates. It wasn’t something Patrick necessarily planned on happening, but you take the game as it comes to you.
After a physical shift in which linemate Jordan Weal got his helmet knocked off, Wayne Simmonds threw his weight around, and ultimately a scrum ensued in the corner, Patrick found himself tied up with Krejci in the corner and had a little chat with him before dropping the gloves.
“Drop ’em then,” you can see Patrick saying to Krejci before he gives him a cross-check to the chest and the fight commences.
“I don’t know. It kind of happens fast on the ice and adrenaline kicks in,” Patrick said. “I’m not scared to do it if it happens, but it’s not a huge part of my game.”
According to HockeyFights.com, Patrick had five fights in his three-year WHL career. His first came in December of 2014 as a 16-year old, and his most recent on March 5th of this year.
Patrick has been a natural leader as one of the best players on his team throughout his years playing hockey growing up, but he was just trying to do his job.
“I’m obviously a young guy coming into camp, so I don’t know if I’m trying to lead too much. I’m just trying to play as good as I can and obviously, you know, G is a great leader and a good guy to look up to and learn from him.”
Patrick definitely showed something on Thursday night. It might not be leadership, but it was a compete level and physicality that Flyers fans and players love.
“I don’t know if I’m trying to lead but I’m just trying to compete as hard as I can out there,” Patrick said.
Patrick held his own against the veteran Krejci, who isn’t much of a fighter himself. But it impressed his teammates nonetheless.
Captain Claude Giroux gave Patrick a wide smile and tap of encouragement as he crossed the ice from the penalty box to the locker room with less than five minutes remaining in the second period.
“I think the crowd liked that one,” Giroux said with a smile. “I didn’t know if he was going to drop ’em, but he did a good job.”
Patrick said he received “different comments from different guys,” after the fight. I’m sure linemate Wayne Simmonds loved it. He joined Patrick in the locker room prior to the end of the period after receiving a 10-minute misconduct. To be a fly on that wall…
Jake Voracek was asked if he had any advice on fighting that he could pass to Patrick, and he responded the only way that he knows how.
“Me? Not really. I have no f#&*ing clue what I’m doing out there,” Voracek said, via David Strehle.
Even his head coach Dave Hakstol was pleased with the fight. It’s not something he needs to see from Patrick, and he’d be better suited on the ice making plays, but Patrick “did what he had to do in that situation,” Hakstol said. “Nolan did his part.”
While everyone on the Flyers side of thing loved the showing from Patrick, his counterpart Krejci didn’t seem to appreciate it as much.
“I don’t want to speak for him, but I felt like he was little over the line. He was willing to go too. It wasn’t like I dropped and he was surprised,” Krejci said.
“You’ve kind of got to give him respect for his first year in the league. Good for him, but at the same time, I thought he crossed the line a little bit. We fought and now it’s over.”
I’d be interested to hear more about what Patrick did or said that “crossed the line a little bit.” The two seemed to be tied up in the corner, separated a bit and skated towards the blue line while chatting, and Patrick eventually goaded him into dropping the gloves. If continuing a scrum after a whistle is crossing the line, then Krejci has a lot to worry about.
It was nice of Krejci to at least give Patrick some respect for his fight as a rookie. Perhaps we’ll get an update on the situation when Krejci and the Bruins visit the Wells Fargo Center later this season.
Nolan Patrick has been showcasing a lot of his skills during the preseason. He’s been making the smart, subtle plays, been finding passing lanes through traffic, and setting up a few goals. We finally got to see his physical side on Thursday night as he dropped the mitts.
Patrick is now officially a Flyer as the season is less than a week away.
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