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The Canucks had as frustrating a third period as it is possible to have last night. Luongo was bad, the re-jigged defensive pairings were bad, and their forwards seemingly quit with ten minutes left to play. It was a tough end to a game that the Canucks thoroughly controlled through forty minutes…
So you’re down in the dumps this morning, feeling bad about the team, and considering starting a riot with the kids at your local high-school. I know how it is, I’m a Canucks fan too. Thankfully, because Canucks fans are the worst, we can find refuge in basic pettiness, which, to be totally frank, is the plan.
You see the Bruins played a game last night that basically showed what the champs really are. I have a fair bit of respect for the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions, they deserved to hoist the mug, and I even am fond of some of their players (I can’t help but like Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas, Patrice Bergeron and Rich Peverly). I wouldn’t say I like Brad Marchand, but I like to make fun of him, and I admire his ability to play the game. Sorry Canucks fans, that dude is fun to watch. All that said, the Bruins are something of a dirty team.
Now, lots of good hockey teams are dirty hockey teams. In fact, often times that’s part of what makes them good. Look no further than your own Vancouver Canucks over the past decade for proof of that. It’s hard to deny, however, that in the most recent Stanley Cup Final, the Boston Bruins made a game plan of constant post-whistle aggression. Combine the Bruins habit of pushing the boundaries of the rule-book to the limit with their absurdly good goaltending and solid two-way play throughout their line-up, and it usually makes them an extremely formidable foe.
But the dirty play is basically in the Bruins DNA now, it’s part of their identity, somewhat along the lines of what we see year after year from the Baltimore Ravens. It fails to be effective, however, when the refs have the stones to do things like "assess Brad Marchand with a misconduct for sucker punching an opponent, and don’t also toss-out the player who he punched because that would be stupid."
That’s what happened last night in Boston, and the Bruins and their fans totally flipped out. First, Zdeno Chara destroyed Jay Harrison, he wrestled him to the ground, then picked him up and started laying shots. Afterwards, he nearly fought Cam Ward before he was assessed an instigator and a ten minute misconduct. Frankly, Chara is all kinds of awesome and his getting 17 PIM out of this sequence is a bit much in my eyes, but it set off what was to follow.
In the third period, Nathan "anger issues" Horton decimated Tim Gleason and continued to do so after Gleason was on the ice prone. I’m not a hockey pacifist, but it was a pretty grotesque sequence. The apology snob was thrown out of the game and received a double minor for roughing. Finally, Jeff Skinner was sucker punched by Brad Marchand who was then given a misconduct for his cheap-shot. So you can’t just punch a guy in the face? Huh, good to know. Even Claude Julien joined his team in the "seeing red department" of Lens Crafters, and got the boot. Truly it was a majestic breakdown, and even the fans got in on the action, throwing garbage at the on-ice officials and delaying the game. Then Bruins fans took to twitter and complained about the refereeing, while Andrew Ference elaborated on the lesson he took out of the game: "It’s not always about punching guys in the head. There’s more to that in being a tough team." Thanks Andrew.
I guess when a team is used to getting away with everything, it’s tough to adjust when it turns out that the rule-book still applies. But to the Bruins credit, while their fans ordered the full-bottle of house whine about the zebras, the team hasn’t made any such excuses. Said the captain Zdeno Chara: "I thought on some occasions it was questionable," he was referring to the team’s discipline, not the officiating in the game.