Many are expecting some retribution one way or the other tonight when the Bruins visit the Atlanta Thrashers.
Someone in an Atlanta uniform might go looking for Milan Lucic as payback for the sucker-punch that landed Freddy Meyer on his back on the ice last Thursday and cost the Bruins winger a fine of more than $3,000.
Or someone in black and gold might go looking for Anthony Stewart, whose punch in the scrum that came near the end of Boston’s 4-1 win last week made Andrew Ference’s eye look like it was hit by a sledgehammer.
As usual, NHL players have to be careful what they say prior to a game where there might be some extracurricular activities. No one wants to risk a fine or suspension. So Thrashers defenseman Zach Bogosian was diplomatic about what might happen tonight at Philips Arena.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thrashers writer Chris Vivlamore had the following in his preview:
“We can’t let our emotions get the best of us,” Bogosian said. “It’s a big game. It’s a must-win game. I’m sure it will be a physical game but you can’t do anything to jeopardize your team in a big game like this. You also want to make sure you play hard and compete for your teammates.”
The Bruins expressed similar sentiments in today’s reports from yesterday’s off day.
Both teams would do well to avoid getting so psyched up for the physical confrontation they forget about the hockey aspect. We saw last season how deflating that can be when Pittsburgh visited Boston and Shawn Thornton threw down with Matt Cooke early on. The Bruins were flat the rest of the night and had their heads handed to them.
I wouldn’t expect anything more than maybe a fight or two between last week’s combatants or a couple of the teams’ tough guys. The two points are way too important for both clubs to risk misconducts and lengthy stays in the penalty box.