You read it here first. In my preview to Thursday night’s game against the Dallas Stars, written on February 3, 2011, I predicted it would be one of the best games of the season and so it was with Boston winning in convincing fashion by a score of 6-3. I wish I could say I predicted the most exciting opening 80 seconds in the entire National Hockey League season was going to occur but it was awesome to watch, wasn’t it? Three fights and two goals by the Bruins set Dallas back on their heels and they never really recovered. The Stars did put some pressure on the B’s by narrowing Boston’s lead from 4-1 to 4-3 but this game was never really in doubt from the opening faceoff, literally, to the final whistle. If you missed the opening 1 minute 20 seconds or if you’d like to relive it, here it is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0Ye5jW0Rdc
Of course, there was plenty of great hockey played in the game. The Bruins were led by the Mark Recchi-Patrice Bergeron-Brad Marchand line. All three forwards picked up three points each. For his efforts, Marchand was named the 3rd Star of the Night by the National Hockey League. Quite an honor for a kid who was not supposed to make much of an impact on this team. His play from day 1 of this season has been impressive and the rookie seems to get better with each outing.
It would be easy to say that the usual suspects led the way for the black and gold however that would not be an accurate statement. The Bruin who stepped up on this occasion and had the team jump on his back was the unheralded Gregory Campbell. It was Campbell who sent the immediate statement to the Stars, if not, the entire NHL that the Boston Bruins will not be taken advantage of from here on out. Of course, Campbell had some unfinished business with Dallas’ Steve Ott that boiled over from last season when Campbell was a member of the Florida Panthers. Campbell needed to settle a score and in doing so, he was telling his teammates this is how their team will play from here on out. As mentioned, Campbell had to settle a small vendetta with Ott but was it more than just a coincidence that he led the way on the day center Marc Savard was scheduled to return to Boston to undergo an exam for his concussion symptoms? This writer thinks that, although it took a year, the Bruins have finally had enough and will not take it anymore. Twenty-nine NHL teams stood up and took notice that the Boston Bruins will not be pushed around anymore, especially in their home building. This new attitude, if it remains in place, will result in more wins than losses for the remainder of the schedule. That has been proven over the years by teams that played a physical, intimidating, style. It worked in the early 1970′s for the Big, Bad, Bruins, as they were called, and it worked in the mid to late 1970′s for the Philadelphia Flyers, aka, The Broad Street Bullies. The New York Islanders in the 1980′s never backed down from anyone and the 2007 Anaheim Ducks used a physical style, as well. The one common denominator all these teams shared is they all won the Stanley Cup. The Big, Bad, Bruins won it twice, the Flyers also won it twice. The Islanders won four consecutive Cups while Anaheim won it once. Last season’s champion Chicago Blackhawks employed tough competitors such as Dustin Byfuglien and Adam Burrish to make sure their opponents knew who was boss. If Thursday night saw the rebirth of the Big, Bad, Bruins then it will be right to say Gregory Campbell was the man who brought them back.
Another player who was trying bring rock’em, sock’em, hockey back to the Hub was Daniel Paille. He delivered an open ice hit to the Stars’ Raymond Sawada that was deemed a blind side hit. Sawada left the game under his own power but did not return. Paille was assessed a game misconduct under rule number 48 in the NHL rule book. Yesterday, Paille was assessed a four game suspension for the hit. Now as a former player and referee, I’ve watched the replay at least fifteen times, from all angles and I must say there was absolutely nothing “dirty” about the check. It was a clean, old fashioned, open ice, body check, delivered to a puck carrier (Sawada) who had his head down looking at the puck. I would like to add that I hope Mr. Sawada is not seriously injured but from the time you first put a hockey stick in your hands you are taught not to look down at the puck. Plus, there were two other Bruins in the vicinity of the puck and I can tell you when you have the puck on your stick and two opponents are chasing you and then a third arrives, you know you are about to be checked and in knowing this you must prepare yourself for it. Unfortunately, Sawada did not prepare himself and that, I believe, is the reason he was injured. The check was shoulder to shoulder. Paille made no contact with Sawada’s head. Once again, in my humble opinion, Daniel Paille should not have been penalized for the hit and he definitely should not have been suspended either. Here is the play, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QONh1DcmSNA&feature=related
With two forwards missing from the Bruins lineup for, at least, the next four games, center Zach Hamill has been recalled from the Providence Bruins, Boston’s American Hockey League affiliate.
The Bruins will take on another Western Conference foe Saturday afternoon at TD Garden in Boston (1:00pm EDT, New England Sports Network). The Sharks will be looking for old friend and former Bruin Joe Thornton to find a way to dent Tim Thomas‘ armor. The Sharks are a perennial power house with All World talents such as Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley, Dan Boyle, and rookie of the year front runner, Logan Couture. Couture leads the Sharks with 22 goals followed by Heatley and Marleau who have 19 each. Thornton leads the club and is 19th in the NHL in total points with 46. Goaltender Antti Niemi, who won the Stanley Cup as Chicago’s starting goalie last spring, will try to pick up his 15th win of the season. Local college hockey fans will get to see former Boston College Eagle, Benn Ferriero. The Boston native is in his second season with San Jose. Unfortunately, former Boston University Terrier, John McCarthy was sent down to their AHL affiliate in Worcester, MA yesterday. The Sharks sit in 5th place of the Western Conference and are one point behind 4th place Nashville.
Saturday’s tilt vs. San Jose should be another physical contest. It will be interesting to see if the new Big, Bad, Bruins continue playing “old time Eddie Shore hockey.”
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Topics: Adam Burrish, AHL, American Hockey League, Anaheim Ducks, Antti Niemi, Bad, Beantown, Benn Ferriero, Big, Boston, Boston Bruins, Boston College, Boston University, Brad Marchand, Broad Street Bullies, Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Dan Boyle, Daniel Paille, Dany Heatley, Dustin Byfuglien, Florida Panthers, Gregory Campbell, Joe Thornton, John McCarthy, Logan Couture, Marc Savard, Mark Recchi, Nashville Predators, National Hockey League, New England Sports Network, New York Islanders, Patrice Bergeron, Patrick Marleau, Philadelphia Flyers, Providence Bruins, Raymond Sawada, San Jose Sharks, Stanley Cup, Steve Ott, TD Garden, Tim Thomas, Western Conference, Worcester, Zach Hamill