By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Every hockey player lives by a code. Sometimes that code is just different than other players’ codes.
For Brad Marchand, the hockey code was broken way back on opening night when Lars Eller celebrated with a little too much exuberance when he scored a goal to put Washington ahead of Boston 7-0. So, the first chance he got that night, Marchand bum-rushed Eller for an old-fashioned fist fight.
With the two teams finally seeing each other again on Thursday night in Boston, Eller was looking to return the favor. His hockey code demanded a rematch. Marchand’s said otherwise.
Almost midway through the second period, Eller engaged with Marchand and eagerly pleaded for a fight, but Marchand refused to dance. For his trouble, Eller ended up getting slapped with a two-minute minor for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The Capitals led 1-0 when the challenge occurred, and Marchand said the timing was not right for him to engage in such activity — especially considering the mismatch in terms of the players that would be taken off the ice for five minutes.
“Oh yeah, I mean, I haven’t looked at the stat sheet but I really don’t feel a need to try to prove anything. He plays you know, maybe 10, 12 minutes a night and I’m playing 20,” Marchand said. “So in a 1-0 game, to go on the power play, it doesn’t make a lot of sense [to fight]. So that’s the way it is.”
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy agreed with that line of thinking.
“Well, there was obviously some bad, some leftover residual effect from the previous game, but I think Marchy recognized the situation,” Cassidy said. “We’re trying to win a hockey game. You take care of business, as Marchy did, when the game was basically decided last time. So, I thought he did – showed very good discipline. Did what he needed to do for team to help us get on the power play, and unfortunately, we weren’t able to cash in.”
Marchand’s numbers were slightly off; while he is averaging 19:50 of ice time per night, Eller averages 16:55 per night for Washington. But Marchand’s 16 goals and 47 points are far more than Eller’s six goals and 20 points. Clearly, the trade-off in a 1-0 game would not have worked to Boston’s advantage.
But as you might expect, the Capitals saw things differently.
And Eller was willing to use the “I” word.
“Everyone saw what he is,” Eller said of Marchand, per The Washington Post. “There’s not a lot of integrity in his game.”
Eller added (per Boston.com): “He obviously didn’t want any part of it. Everybody saw. Can’t fight a guy that doesn’t want to fight. Everybody saw what he is. I mean, yeah. I don’t know what else to say. We got out of here with two points. We got what we wanted.”
Capitals winger T.J. Oshie added that he was “let down” that Marchand refused to go, but he opted to not go any further than that.
File this one under: Yet to be settled. And considering it involves two guys who almost never fight, it might take a while to sort it all out properly.
The Bruins and Capitals next meet on Feb. 3 — Super Bowl Sunday — in Washington at 12:30 p.m.