BOSTON — Brad Marchand came to the defense of teammate Milan Lucic when the topic of Lucic’s punch of Victor Hedman in last night’s Tampa Bay victory was broached in the dressing room today.
“Hedman was acting like he wanted to go back at Looch. But I don’t think that would’ve been advised,” said the pesky winger during a Bruins day off at the TD Garden.
“But Hedman had it coming. It’s just a frustration act and that stuff happens.”
The punch occurred with less that 40 seconds remaining in a game the Lightning had in the bag. Just prior, Nathan Horton had taken a swipe at Dominic Moore to earn a penalty. Lucic was not one of the five Bruins players made available to the media today.
After the Lightning won 5-2 and took a 1-0 series lead over Boston in the Eastern Conference Final, Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher had a different opinion about the play.
“The league is looking at head shots,” Boucher was quoted in the St. Petersburg Times, “and that was a straight head shot.”
The Bruins, of all teams, should be sensitive to blows to the head, considering they’re without centers Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard due to concussions. For the most part, the team has been diligent about lobbying the league to take steps to reduce head shots. Defenseman Andrew Ference even famously broke with hockey tradition and criticized his own teammate Daniel Paille earlier this season when the winger delivered a lateral hit to the head of Dallas’ Raymond Sawada.
This morning, Bruins head coach Claude Julien didn’t think there was much to Boucher’s claim and equated the Lucic hit to another altercation earlier in the game between Johnny Boychuk and Vinny Lecavalier.
“If the referees need to call those things, that’s their call. And I think it’s part of the frustration sometimes in games and liberty is taken, and same thing as usual,” said Julien. “It’s always easy to look at the main punch just like that penalty that Boychuk took. How [we] ended up shorthanded is tough to see after Lecavalier jumps him after a clean hit.
“Those are things that happen in a game and we can whine and cry about things. We take care of our own business, and if he feels that way, that’s his prerogative.
“We’re moving on to the next game and we’re not even thinking about that.”
Earlier this season, Lucic was involved in a similar incident against Tampa Bay, as he entered a scrum and high sticked Moore from the side. Lucic received no additional discipline. As of this morning it appeared the Hedman punch would also go unpunished except for the 10-minute misconduct Lucic received.
As expected, Hedman said he doesn’t anticipate there will be any carry over from Game 1 to Tuesday’s Game 2.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said after the Tampa Bay victory. “It happens in games and it is something you have to expect. I don’t think it is going to be anything else going on.”