BOSTON — You knew it was only a matter of time before Tampa Bay forward Steve Downie would be involved in an controversial play.
You just might’ve been surprised it took until Game 5 for him to cause a stir.
“That guy’s not passing any of those up,” said one Bruins player, who knows Downie’s reputation for crossing the line, about his hit on Johnny Boychuk.
The veteran winger, who was already suspended once this playoffs for leaving his feet on a hit on Pittsburgh’s Ben Lovejoy, nailed Boychuk with the Bruins defenseman mostly turned the other way with 9:06 remaining in the Bruins’ 3-1 win tonight.
Boychuk was behind his own net and had just made a pass to his D partner Andrew Ference.
Downie received a boarding major but Boychuk, who hit his head on the glass, staggered to the bench and then the dressing room. With about two minutes left to play, Boychuk made his way out to the bench to watch the Bruins put the finishing touches on Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final and move within one win of the Stanley Cup Final.
While he looked to have a fresh bruise on the side of his head, Boychuk was walking around the Bruins’ dressing room after the game — which is always a positive sign, because seriously injured players are usually hidden away after games in the regular season or playoffs.
“I feel good,” Boychuk told TheBruinsBlog.net when asked in passing.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien hadn’t watched replays of the hit before he met with the media. But he still had this to say:
“Johnny’s fine. Haven’t had an opportunity to look at it. I haven’t watched the video yet. I know some people have. And from what I hear, it’s not a great hit.
“But I’ll maybe reserve my comments a bit more for after I see it.”
Downie was actually on the receiving end of a hit from Nathan Horton in the second period of Saturday’s Game 4. Horton hit Downie into the glass and the Tampa Bay forward didn’t return to the game. He hadn’t been on the ice since then until tonight’s pregame warm-up.
The league could review the hit between now and Wednesday’s Game 6.