January 9, 2012

Bruins vs Canucks thoughts & other notes

I was lucky enough to be sitting 1st row on the glass for the 1/7/12 Bruins vs. Canucks Stanley Cup rematch game. First, I want to say that you cannot truly appreciate the speed that these guys play at until you at ice level. I’ve sat there before, but every time I see a game in the first row I leave in awe. The speed at which these guys play is just off the charts insane.

Everyone knew there was going to be a lot of carry over from the Finals last year. It was a dirty, physical, grueling 7 game series. During the playoffs, fighting is all but forgotten, & the referees are a lot more lenient of play; they would much rather let the players decided the outcome of those important games. A lot of what you saw in last year’s finals wouldn’t be allowed in the regular season. So, when the 2 teams met Saturday, as expected, the referees were very involved in the game- to the point where I feel as if they had a major influence on the outcome of the game.

I haven’t had a chance to re-watch the NESN broadcast of the tilt, something I almost always do, so I am still somewhat foggy on the details of the game that I missed. I have however seen multiple replays on a few of the more important plays. Here are my thoughts on the 2 most impactful plays of the game:

  1. Fight at the benches in the first period; Lucic gets tossed
This whole sequence started 4 minutes into the game. Stone Hands Paille was heading to the bench for a change, & on his way in, weasel Alex Burrows (the biter) slashed the back of his leg. Sugar Shawn Thornton saw this, and went after Burrows in an effort to stand up for his teammate. Burrows then waved his stick in Thornton’s face/throat area, I am not sure if he actually made contact with the throat or not, but that doesn’t really matter- that shit doesn’t fly in hockey. The scrum was building right in front of the VAN bench, and Bruins players rushed in to help. Milan Lucic, who was replacing Paille, jumped in the middle in an effort to assist Thornton, who was fighting off 3 guys on the ice and a couple players from the VAN bench. At this same time Horton squared off with Dale Weise in one of the longer, better NHL fights I’ve seen this year.

Anyway after the dust settled the referees determined that Lucic had come off the bench to join the scrum, so they gave him a 2 minute minor and a game misconduct, meaning he had the rest of the afternoon off. Of course Vancouver’s #1 powerplay  unit scored on the ensuing man advantage, giving them the early lead in the game. After the game was over the NHL immediately rescinded the game misconduct assigned to Lucic after videotape proved he didn’t come off the bench to join the fight, rather he was just replacing Paille.

So the referees kicked him out for no reason. My guess is the VAN bench swayed the referees by crying and bitching that Lucic came off the bench. I am not sure what the fallout of this will be but I certainly hope a fine and suspension is delivered to the on ice officials. Not only did it directly lead to a goal, but it removed one of our best players for the entire game.

  1. Brad Marchand’s clipping penalty
Late in the 2nd period with the score tied 2-2, Brad Marchand & Sami Salo were in the middle of a very spirited shift; they had each delivered a hit to each other and were battling hard along the boards. The puck swung around the boards to Marchand’s wing, he looked up, and with Salo charging in, Marchand got low and upended Salo. The referees determined the hit was illegal; they called a 5 minute major for clipping and a game misconduct.

Here is how the NHL defines “clipping”- (which, for the record, I do not think I have EVER seen this penalty called, and I watch a lot of hockey)

44.1 Clipping - Clipping is the act of throwing the body, from any direction, across or below the knees of an opponent. If an injury occurs from a “clipping” infraction, the offending player must be assessed a major penalty & game misconduct.

Watch the video of the play for yourself . Towards the end the hit is replayed in slow motion.

How in God’s name does anyone think that is at or below the knees of Salo? It clearly above his knees. Marchand did NOT deserve this penalty and should have remained in the game. Of course, Vancouver went on to score 2 goals during ensuing 5 minute powerplay, including the game winner.

I have seen Marchand do this EXACT same thing before, only in those instances no penalties were called. He is a small guy playing in a physical NHL. I do not blame him one bit for this move. Salo was charging at him, clearly with the intent on laying a huge hit on Marchand 2 feet off the boards (an extremely dangerous play in itself), and #63 saw it coming & protected himself the only way he could. I would rather him upend Salo 15 out of 10 times than take that hit, which could easily have led to a possible concussion. Sorry, but you can’t penalize a short guy just because he went low to avoid a major collision. He didn’t hit him at or below the knees and he didn’t deserve a penalty.

Today Brad Marchand has a hearing with the NHL, and will probably be assessed a fine and short suspension. I think this will have more to do with his repeat offenses more than anything else. (I can’t and won’t defend his slew foot earlier this year, and his elbow to the head of a player last year. Both of those infractions deserved penalties and fines.)

Anyway you see my point. Both the Lucic and Marchand penalties were unwarranted. We lost our 2 best left wingers for a combined 60 minutes & 3 of the 4 VAN goals were scored directly from these plays. The referees deserve a lot of the blame in this poorly officiated contest.

BUT instead of being upset or depressed, Bruins fans, we should be encouraged. I am even more confident now that the Bruins are the best team in the NHL than I was before this game. If this were the playoffs, those bullshit penalties are not called and the Bruins win in convincing fashion over the best team in the Western Conference.

Let’s end this post on a high note. Here are some orgasmic stats and bits from the Bruins team this year:

The Bruins are 19-0 when leading going into the 3rd period

The Bruins have scored the most goals in the NHL this year (Bruins have also played in the least amount of games)

The Bruins have given up the least amount of goals in the NHL this year

The top 4 players in the NHL in +/- are as follows: Seguin (+32) Marchand (+27), Chara (+27), Bergeron (+26)

Both Tuukka Rask & Tim Thomas are in the top 5 in both save percentage and GAA

The Bruins have more penalty minutes than any other team

The Bruins have the 2nd most fighting majors

The Bruins are the only team not to give up a short-handed goal

The Bruins have the best road record in the league at 12-4

The Bruins have had the 2 longest win streaks in the NHL this year

The Bruins have the most shutouts in the league with 7

The Bruins have the best faceoff percentage in the league

I think it’s safe to say this year’s team is far superior to last year’s Cup-winning squad, which probably makes other teams wet the bed at night. If the Bruins can avoid major injury, I honestly cannot see them losing a 7 game series to anyone, so hopefully a repeat is in the works.

PS- Can you imagine how good our team would be with a healthy Marc Savard? The one weakness of this team is a middling powerplay… which was Savard’s specialty. I sometimes dream about the Savard-Seguin connection that could have been.

PPS- Here are 2 videos I found from last year's Finals vs Vancouver. Someone please tell me how these aren't the same or very similar to the incident from this past Saturday? Neither of these plays resulted in penalties.

1 comment:

  1. The first video where Lucic gets hit is the one I was telling you about at the game, where I said whoever did that would definitely be getting some payback. Nice find!