BOSTON (CBS) — It should come as no surprise that in the waning seconds of a typically heated playoff game between the Bruins and Canadiens, a fight broke out.
From a spectator’s standpoint, that “fight” looked much more like a bullying, as the only willing combatants looked to be the players who were wearing a “B” on their sweaters. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara seemed to initiate the fracas, as he and Mike Weaver came together, with the 6-foot-9 defenseman extending a light punch to the chin of Weaver.
After that, players grabbed at each other along the boards, with Jarome Iginla offering a shot to Andrei Markov and Torey Krug sneaking in a few jabs to Brian Gionta.
The way the fight ended was obvious, but the way it began was less clear. Bruins head coach Claude Julien set to clear up any confusion when he took the podium after the game, which the Canadiens won 4-0.
“We’re perceived as the bad guys and they’re the good guys,” Julien said. “When Markov trips Chara and then he puts his stick between his legs and nothing’s going to be called, eventually somebody’s going to react. So whether it’s right or wrong, Zdeno reacted and then everything else started. And there was a slewfoot before — [David] Desharnais on [Brad] Marchand. It’s a slewfoot. Those are things that we keep talking about that are dangerous in our game.”
Julien then quickly noted that in no way was he saying his team hasn’t also engaged in physical behavior that occasionally crosses the line.
“It’s a rivalry and there’s some things going on both sides,” Julien said. “I’m not portraying ourselves as innocent here. I’m just saying it takes two teams to tango, and that’s what happened.”
Fans inside Montreal’s Bell Centre littered the ice with debris after the fight and then targeted the Bruins on their way off the ice after the final horn.
Julien’s mentioning of Markov’s stick between Chara’s legs was in reference to just the latest installment of a shot to an opponent’s groin in an NHL postseason that’s been full of them. Milan Lucic drew heavy criticism for his stick usage on Danny DeKeyser in the first round, as it was his second instance of such a play in the span of a month, but that was only the start. Corey Perry used the blade of his stick to hit Jamie Benn in the groin that very same night. Perry suffered some justice in some way early in the second round when goaltender Jonathan Quick punched Perry between the legs while Perry was lying on his back on the ice. And on Sunday night, Sidney Crosby lifted his stick straight up between Dominic Moore’s legs before a scrum broke out in front of the net.
Clearly, groin shots have become commonplace in the NHL this postseason, with each bringing different results. On this night, it resulted in a mini-fracas on Montreal ice.
Whether it carries over into Game 7 can’t be known just yet, but some of the participants assured the media that Monday’s fight was an isolated incident.
“It wasn’t frustration or anything like that. Just a scuffle and nothing more than that,” said Milan Lucic.
“It wasn’t too big a deal, I didn’t think,” Iginla said. “Those things happen. It’s the playoffs.”
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