By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Brad Marchand picked the worst possible time to be undisciplined. In the first period of a hugely important game with massive playoff implications, Marchand decided to ram the blade of his stick into the groin area of Lightning defenseman Jake Dotchin. With the referee looking directly at the play.
Marchand was assessed a five-minute spearing major and a game misconduct. The play is already under review by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, and a source tells CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty that Marchand could receive more than just a fine.
For what it’s worth, Marchand was reasonably accountable for the penalty when he spoke to reporters after the game. But it doesn’t excuse how colossally dumb the play was.
“It was an undisciplined penalty, there’s no question about that,” said Marchand. “It could have cost the team a very important game, but the guys did a great job of rallying and having a huge game.”
The penalty occurred with 40 seconds left in the first period, and the Bruins went on to kill the last 4:20 of the penalty to start the second. Head coach Bruce Cassidy complimented the team for overcoming Marchand’s penalty.
“It’s a game changer,” said Cassidy. “We’ll keep it to the simple fact that we’ve been good on the kill all year. It’s come through for us in crucial times, and tonight there was no bigger time for us.”
Marchand also called the spear a “reactionary play,” so obviously the dirtier aspects of his game are not totally gone. It’s unfortunate and disappointing that it crept back in at the worst possible time – and he’s lucky that the Bruins were able to overcome losing him and get the win to clinch a playoff spot.
The only sliver of hope that Marchand has to avoid a suspension for the spear is that there’s no recent precedent for it. Funnily enough, the last time a player received supplemental discipline for a spearing major, Marchand was on the receiving end of the spear from Brandon Prust, who got a $5,000 fine for the incident. Prust also avoided a suspension in spite of his reputation as a dirty player.
Fortunately, the Bruins don’t have to worry about trying to clinch a playoff spot without Marchand in the lineup. But if the league decides to make an example of him, the Bruins could be forced to play postseason games without their leading scorer.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at email@example.com.