BOSTON (CBS) — If you’re like me, in that you watch hockey games whilst eating popcorn and oohing and ahhing at the exciting moments of play, then you probably would love to see a seven-game series between the Bruins and Canadiens, a bitter rivalry that has somehow maintained its nastiness in the ever-more peaceful world of professional sports.
But if you’re the Boston Bruins, and you actually have something at stake, the Habs are the last team you should want to see come May.
Last night, for the 4 millionth time in history, the Canadiens used their magic pixy dust to irritate the Bruins, forcing the Bruins to take a series of dumb penalties. The Bruins thoroughly dominated 5-on-5 play for the majority of the night (Montreal had just nine 5-on-5 shots on net in the game), but thanks to
- Zdeno Chara once again losing his cool with Alexei Emelin for no reason,
- Brad Marchand getting caught swiping P.K. Subban’s face with a high stick ,
- and Johnny Boychuk tackling Subban to the ground after the Habs D-man very unsurprisingly refused to fight after punching his Bruins counterpart in the head,
the Bruins spent a good portion of the game shorthanded.
Thanks to four consecutive Montreal penalties in the third period, the Bruins were able to climb out of a one-goal deficit, force overtime and earn a point. But the ease with which the Canadiens goaded the Bruins into playing a sloppy mess of a game, and the fact the Bruins players couldn’t explain why they lost their composure despite knowing what to expect heading into the game should be fair warning: a Bruins-Canadiens second-round playoff series could be very bad news for Boston.
With that established, let’s dive into the leftover Bruins thoughts after that 2-1 shootout win for Montreal.
–I became downright giddy upon hearing Milan Lucic refer to Alexei Emelin as “a chicken” after the game. It wasn’t because I necessarily agreed with him (though the low bridge was a questionable hit early in the game )but rather because HE REFERRED TO ANOTHER MAN AS A CHICKEN! That’s the type of insult I honestly hadn’t heard since the third grade, and to see it return (on ’90s night at the Garden, no less) in all its splendor was a glorious moment.
This right here, by the way, is why Emelin opted to avoid going shoulder-to-shoulder:
Chicken? Or maybe he’s just interested in self-preservation.
–I’ve gone every which way on the mini-controversy surrounding Lucic’s act of placing his stick in a very special area of Emelin in the third period.
On the one hand, given that Lucic was admittedly angry with Emelin due to the first-period hip check, you can’t give Milan any benefit of the doubt. But at the same time, Lucic isn’t exactly the smoothest of operators, and if he could pull off a drive-by how’s-ya-father without even breaking stride I’d be shocked.
So I file that one into a gray area.
–The Bruins look like they’ll be playing until May or June. Hopefully the temperature will hit the 50-degree mark in Boston by then.
Ah ha ha ha. That’s just a little light weather humor for you right there. Just one example of my grandfatherly charm. Would you like a Werther’s Original? After you’re done laughing hysterically, of course.
–What is the point of the instigator penalty if it’s not going to be called in a clear instance of the violation? After Kevan Miller accidentally sent Dale Weise crashing into the corner boards, Travis Moen skated up to the Bruins rookie, offered a cross-check to the back, squared up and started shaking his gloves. The duo then dropped the mitts, and given the fact that Moen needed help from two teammates to get to the bench and wasn’t able to return to the game, he likely regrets it.
But the Canadiens scored on the ensuing power play (from the Miller cross-check), when play should have been even strength. By the letter of the law, Moen may not have been an aggressor, as Miller eventually became a willing combatant, but the instigator penalty has been applied for less in this league.
–Overall, I thought referees Dan O’Halloran and Kyle Rehman were just overwhelmed by the moment. Their calls were all over the place, and they let some egregious offenses go while calling a few ticky-tack penalties.There was one point in the third period when Brad Marchand camped out on top of P.K. Subban’s back, delivering a series of shots to his old pal, and the referee standing right in front of them watched and let it all go.
They must have known going in to expect some mayhem in a charged-up building, but they failed that test prolifically.
So you might as well pencil those guys in as the refs for any potential playoff matchup between these two teams in Boston. That’s generally how these things work.
–That being said, they made some calls that were indisputably obvious, like when Douglas Murray used both hands to grab Chris Kelly’s shoulder and spin him around. Yet Murray threw an absolute fit after the penalty call, slamming his stick on the ice and yapping at the ref all the way to the box.
For a guy who’s been able to overcome a lack of ability to skate to persevere with a nine-years-and-running NHL career, you’d think he’d be more grateful out there.
–Chicken! He called him a chicken! A Chicken!!
–You have to feel for Dougie Hamilton. He thought he scored the game-tying goal, as he (and everyone else in the arena) was unaware that Patrice Bergeron had actually tipped it in. Dougie unleashed a celebration (I refuse to use the word “celly” … though I guess I just did) that must have been kept in storage for the past year.
Alas, the goal was credited to Bergeron, but they can never take that celebration away from Mr. Hamilton.
–Gregory Campbell owes Daniel Paille a Fribble or two after sending him this pass that got the speedy winger absolutely laid out by Mike Weaver:
–-Peter Budaj was solid, no doubt, finishing the night with 28 saves and four more in the shootout. But too many of those Boston shots were sent directly into the C and H on Budaj’s chest. Just look at all this masterful work done by David Krejci, only to go to waste with a shot to the logo.
–So yesterday, Peter Chiarelli said in a radio interview in Canada that “there’s a chance” Dennis Seidenberg returns during the playoffs.
Let’s address this.
Seidenberg wants to come back, and I get that. He’s a super competitor, and he’s the type of guy who just doesn’t accept the word “can’t.” But this is most certainly a very bad idea.
Seidenberg tore his ACL and MCL on Dec. 27. The playoffs begin around April 16. That would mean the second round should begin in late April, and the conference finals will take place in mid-May. If Seidenberg were to come back for a conference finals, that would be a four-and-a-half month recovery, which is just not a safe amount of time. To throw that damaged knee into the most intense postseason of the most intense sport would be to beg for catastrophe.
People might think that Seidenberg at 75 percent is better than, say, Matt Bartkowski or Dougie Hamilton at 100 percent. But that’s really not true. Seidenberg’s whole game is being strong and impenetrable. He stands like a rock with Zdeno Chara to his left and together the two D-men are as shutdown as shutdown can be.
But having Seidenberg out there without the full strength of his knee — a pretty important joint in the human body — would be useless. And dangerous. As much as the idea of seeing The Chardenberg reunited come playoff time is a juicy one, let’s put it to bed right now.
–And speaking of those playoffs, it was sure nice to feel a postseason atmosphere inside the Garden on Monday night, after things had gotten somewhat stale with the Floridas and Carolinas and Phoenixes of the world filling the schedule lately. That should only continue Thursday night, when the Blackhawks come back to the building where they hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup last June. I think it’s safe to expect a good one on Thursday.
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