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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports

WATCH: JJ Khaira sticks up for Zack kassian, fights Haley

Saturday night’s afternoon’s alright for fighting. It’s a matinee game in Sunrise, Florida today and everyone is all riled up. Panthers grunt Michael Haley drilled Zack Kassian with a questionable check and immediately had to the answer to JJ Khaira.

The Panthers have turned into this year’s biggest goon squad. They’ve been in 42 fights over the season which is far and away the most in the league. It’s quite a change for a team who last year was apparently moving towards a focus on analytics. Haley is a big part of that. According to Hockey Fights, he leads the league with 20 scraps so far this season, eight clear of the next guy Cody McLeod.

Haley is an experienced fighter. He knows what he’s doing out there. But Khaira is starting to build a reputation as one of the league’s better young fighters. Both guys get their right arms free and exchange a couple blows but I think Khaira got the best of Haley at the end with a big hook.

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This was Khaira’s sixth fight of the season. Recently we’ve seen him actively sticking up for players and getting the team fired up with his fights. As a result, Khaira is turning himself into quite the fan favourite in Oil Country.