MONTREAL — The Boston Bruins skated this morning at Bell Centre in preparation for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Montreal Canadiens.
While his teammates went through line drills, winger Milan Lucic stood at the red line near the official scorer’s booth watching with a look on his face like a kid on the playground that no one will play with. At one point he took a swipe at Marc Savard as the center skated by. But Lucic missed and Savard didn’t stop to mess around.
It’s tough when you’ve been handed a one-game suspension by the NHL for a “reckless and forceful blow to the head of his opponent,” as the league deemed his hit on Maxim Lapierre in Game 2 of this series when it announced the suspension last night.
“Obviously it was a decision made by (NHL disciplinarian) Colin Campbell. Obviously you know you’ve got to respect his decision,” Lucic said after the skate. “He has one of the hardest jobs when it comes to hockey so he made his decision that he felt was right and I respect the decision.”
Lucic, who helped the Bruins jump out to a 2-o lead in the series, also accepted some of the blame for taking an action that required league review.
“I guess you can say I’m a little bit disappointed in myself because I think our team’s done a reall good job of being disciplined this whole series,” he explained. “So there’s a little bit of disappointment now.
“I think that’s the biggest thing that I can take out of this is you learn from this, you take a lot out of this. It’s the playoffs, so you really can’t do things like to jeopardize your team.”
Lucic said he did not intentionally hit Lapierre up high — calling it a “defensive move” and “unfortunately the stick was still in my hands.” Head coach Claude Julien avoid comment on the ruling — noting that he needed to get his team, minus Lucic, ready for the game at hand — but he was obviously disappointed by Campbell’s ruling considering the lack of premeditation of Lucic’s part.
“It was a reaction. So, again, it’s just one of those things where Looch uses his shoulders extremely well. And sometimes when you’re a target you have people coming at you from different directions. He reacted; he didn’t pre-plan what happened,” said the coach.
General manager Peter Chiarelli was as accepting of the ban as Lucic. Chiarelli said it took the better part of Sunday for Campbell to make his decision and that Campbell assured him it was a “difficult decision.” While noting that he urged Lucic to be more careful with his stick, Chiarelli also pointed out that had the stick not been in Lucic’s hand a suspension probably would’ve been avoided.
Lucic’s suspension is the second handed out by the league during the playoffs. Philadelphia’s Daniel Carcillo received a one-game band for his blow to the head of Maxime Talbot with his hand on top of his stick. Calgary’s Mike Cammalleri was not suspended for a similar blow to the head of Chicago’s Martin Havlat.
As for the seemingly unclear nature of what is and what isn’t a suspendible offense through the first week of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Chiarelli sounds accepting of the “feeling-out period” that seems to be in effect.
“So it’s the same as the beginning of every year, you meet with the refs, with (director of officiating) Stephen (Walkom) and his group, and they tell you how they’re going to approach stick fouls and obstruction and all that. And there always seems to be a slew of penalties at the beginning of the year and then the players figure it out for the most part,” said Chiarelli. “And I expect the same thing with this. But the real common denominator is if you maintain your composure, while still playing hard, you’re going to be successful.”