Recently I wrote that Wade Belak seems to be held up from fulfilling his natural role as an enforcer on this Nashville Predators team. Despite well-deserved caution over taking needless penalties, when opponents start taking liberties and the physical play escalates, that's the situation where your heavyweight needs to turn the tide, doing the dirty work that he is best suited for. With just 3 fights so far, Belak spends most games sitting on the bench or watching from the press box.
This question naturally came up again last night as the Predators piled up a big lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and a number of fights broke out along the way. While they fired up the home crowd, the thought of a key defenseman like Shea Weber or Kevin Klein breaking a finger during a needless scrap is terrifying for a team that has the talent to compete in the West, but not the depth to handle significant losses.
So what do you think? Given that Belak was in the lineup last night, did it make sense for him to skate only 2 shifts in the third period? If he's not going to be allowed to make an impact, would the Preds be better served by benching him and dressing someone like Dave Scatchard instead?