BOSTON – So let me guess.
Right about now, Don Cherry and every other pundit that decided over the last week that the Bruins’ dressing room is fractured because of Andrew Ference’s comments about Daniel Paille’s hit against Dallas are figuring the team was so mad at Ference they took it out on the faces of the Montreal Canadiens.
If this Bruins team doesn’t get along, I’d hate to see what happens when they’re united. And the next time the loudest of pundits sets put in the Bruins’ dressing room, let me know because that means hell has frozen over.
Racking up 14 fighting and roughing penalties in their 8-6 win over the Canadiens tonight at TD Garden, the Bruins seemingly had each other’s backs at every turn, even if the Canadiens’ challenges to Boston players were almost all more verbal than physical until the Bruins responded to the chatter.
The teams combined for close to 200 PIM on the night.
Ference got in his licks in with 49 seconds remaining in regulation, when he battered Travis Moen before the remaining skaters on the ice dropped the gloves and turned the ice surface into a sea of equipment for at least the third time on the night.
“That’s exactly it,” said winger Milan Lucic, who finished with 16 PIM, said about the Bruins players sticking up for each other. “We are going to stand up for one another we are going to stand up to anyone and we want to be team-tough I think that is what we showed against Dallas and that is what we showed tonight.”
The Dallas game was a week ago, and the Paille hit capped off an evening that started with three fights in four seconds. When Ference classified Paille’s hit on Raymond Sawada – which earned the Boston forward a four-game suspension – as a “bad hit” it was too sharp for old-school hockey ears. Folks like Cherry were up in arms that Ference would dare share an ounce of humanity in public and point out that the type of play Paille had injured Sawada with was just the type of play the league is trying to cut from the game – regardless of the uniform the hitter or victim is wearing.
Oh the audacity. First they made the players wears helmets, and then they started riding chartered jets and now they’re trying to make sure players leave the game with their brains in one piece. What’s next, skirts instead of hockey pants?
Seriously, this is a renaissance Bruins team if there ever was one. The squad has enough old-school qualities to engage in fisticuffs when necessary. When it decides to use it, it has the skill and speed to win hockey games in modern-day NHL. And some of its players can also speak eloquently on important topics such as headshots the way Ference and Patrice Bergeron have so often. It might fly in the face of hockey history and those stuck in the dark ages preserving it, but so did the idea of putting a mask on the goalie or letting coaches talk to sideline reporters during games.
The Bruins – players, coaches and front-office types alike – have all denied that the Ference’s comments and Paille’s rebuttal (he wasn’t exactly understanding of Ference’s public opinion) have soured team chemistry. A Super Bowl party where the squad got together and even laughed about the tiff supposedly buried the hatchet once and for all.
Their actions tonight, like those of last week against the Stars, pretty much prove that on the ice the Bruins are a brotherhood. Maybe off the ice there is some sniping and divisions. Who cares? Not everyone has to get along. The best teams don’t all love each other away from the rink. A little off-ice edge can translate into even more on-ice fireworks.
As long as they stick together between the boards, that’s all that matters. They did that tonight, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t do it again and again until the final horn sounds on the 2010-11 campaign.