BOSTON (CBS) — Who embellishes on the ice and who doesn’t?
After his Bruins blew a third-period lead for the second time this season and lost to Montreal, 4-3, Sunday night at TD Garden, head coach Claude Julien voiced his opinion on the matter.
“It’s frustrating because tonight as everybody saw, there’s a lot of embellishment,” Julien said. “And this is embarrassing for our game, the embellishing. And right now they’ve got over 100 power plays, so far, and it’s pretty obvious why. And we’re trying to clean that out of our game. And it’s got to be done soon because it’s not about tonight, it’s about the game. And embellishment embarrasses our game. And we need to be better at that.
“It was pretty obvious, you know, when P.K. [Subban] gets hit and he throws himself into the glass and holds his head. You know what? We start calling those penalties for embellishment, maybe teams will stop doing it. But until we take charge of that, it’s going to be an issue.”
Julien was responding to a question about the game-turning sequence when Zdeno Chara was called for an instigating minor, a fighting major and a 10-minute misconduct. Chara was responding to a hit by Alexei Emelin on Tyler Seguin at center ice that broke Emelin’s stick and sent Seguin to the ice and then up the runway to get checked out.
The Bruins, of course, to a man backed their captain’s decision to retaliate against a guy who’s known for his line-crossing plays but also has metal plates in his face from 2009 surgery he had after a fight in the KHL. Seguin barely missed any ice time, but Chara wound up watching the Canadiens rally from a goal down in the third period. So another question that could be asked would be, ‘Did Seguin really need retaliation?’
There’s no doubt sometimes it looks like Subban is trying out for the Canadian diving team, and Lars Eller’s No. 1 goal in life is to goad Adam McQuaid into extracurricular activities without standing up for himself. However, sometimes the acting bug bites both ways.
Broken stick or not – and who hasn’t seen these newfangled sticks break even when a player fans on a shot? – Seguin looked like he was trying to challenge Daniel Day Lewis, as he left the ice with a pained face and returned to the game without missing a shift. Sure, Max Pacioretty might’ve taken the same tact instead of pretending he’d lost his nose after getting a high stick from Dennis Seidenberg, but every actor has his methods.
This stuff happens all the time, and by both sides. Subban’s best moves might be the jump into the glass or the belly flop. Seguin’s at his acting best when he puts his glove to his mouth or nose to make sure everything’s in place, whether there was contact with a stick or not. No one can forget Brad Marchand’s one-man rehash of “Swan Lake” last spring in the playoffs against Washington.
It might not be something for the NHL to be proud of, but every team in the league now has a couple of divers. Every club also has stand-up guys. For every Marchand, there’s an Adam McQuaid or Shawn Thornton. For every Subban there’s a Brandon Prust or Josh Gorges.
The issue tonight wasn’t the flopping by either side. It was the Bruins’ inability to finish their chances against Montreal’s backup goaltender, Peter Budaj. The Bruins’ defense, with and without Chara, was playing hot potato with the puck. The Canadiens proved their added muscle (hello, Prust) is going to make a difference this season, and David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty are developing into legit first-line players.
Let’s hope that Julien’s rant to the media didn’t spill over into the dressing room. The Bruins players can’t fool themselves into believing they lost their share of first place in the Eastern Conference because of some non-calls and dives. They lost a hockey game and got away from playing their structure and with poise.
Who dives and who doesn’t? Who cares? The better team won Sunday and the Bruins have to be better if they’re going to overtake the Canadiens for first place over the next six weeks.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.