Fighting chance

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

The fight was so eagerly anticipated the scorekeeper forgot to turn off the clock.

He didn't want to miss a second of the scrap.

From the time word got out Darryl Sutter had summoned Eric Godard from Omaha Monday, it was obvious he was brought in to fight Derek Boogaard.

You could have sold programs.

It was so premeditated that early in the second the two initially lined up on opposite wings at centre ice until Boogaard decided to switch with his linemate so he could stand beside Godard.

Weighing in at 6-ft. 4-in., 220-lbs., the Flames tough guy spotted Boogaard three ins. and 50-lbs. when they shed the mitts and got 'er goin'.

In a week in which Jarome Iginla's injury and first fight of the year sparked debate over whether the Flames needed some muscle in the lineup, there was no debating what would happen next: The summer's fiercest free agent signing would make good on his regular-season debut with the big club.

Kicking off a spirited tilt with a few missed haymakers from both brutes, Godard eventually gained control, stunning the little-used Wild forward with a few overhand rights that buckled Boogaard's knees. After climbing to his feet, the visitor was finished off with two more rights that sent him to the ice for good.

The Boogie Man then left the game for good, in search of some ice and repairs.

"I was just glad I didn't get beat up," laughed Godard, a veteran of 35 NHL fights over three years on Long Island.

"It's exciting when the crowd gets into it like that."

Turns out the impetus for Godard's promotion had little to do with his shocking four-point night in Omaha last week. In fact, the Flames were none too impressed with Boogaard in their last meeting when the big lug ran around hitting everything who moved in the latter stages of a 5-2 Flames win Dec. 12.

Enter Godard.

Still, there was no guarantee he'd dress in lieu of Andrei Zyuzin, especially considering Jim Playfair's response last week when asked if the club needed a pure tough guy.

"He's got to be able to play," shrugged Playfair, unconvinced the organization had such a beast. "Look at the kid in Minny (Boogaard) -- would you rather have someone out there fighting him or would you rather keep him out there?"

Thing is, with Marcus Nilson on the verge of returning to the lineup it's likely the game's third star will be on a plane back to Omaha as early as this morning. And he threatened to take the team's coveted All Business tie with him.

As for Boogaard, he'll likely continue eating up two or three minutes a game in Minny despite the fact his last of five previous fights came in November.

"It's like riding a bike -- you get the hang of it pretty quick," said the 270-pounder before the game.

You get the feeling he didn't enjoy the bump in the road he hit last night.


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