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With 5:37 left in the game on Sunday, Marc Savard was decked in malevolent fashion by the Penguins‘ Matt Cooke. Aside from the initial jawing, nothing was done by the Bruins as payback. Isn’t that what you do when someone commits such a grievous act against your team? Don’t you fight them and punch their lights out? What’s five minutes in the penalty box to your team’s honor? True, it’s hard to think about it in the heat of the moment, but there could be more to the obvious than meets the eye. It was probably a good thing for the Bruins not to get hotheaded a la Bruce Banner. Why, you ask? I’m glad you asked:
The Penguins are obviously the favored team whenever they meet the Bruins. If the hit had occurred in the 1st or 2nd period, or even early in the 3rd, things may have been conducted differently. But there was just 5:37 left to go. Could the Bruins have gotten something going in that short amount of time? Maybe they could have, but the way the season has been going for Boston thus far, it takes them a while to come up with offense, and play calling isn’t always the best. The Bruins almost had terrible timing, as the Penguins started attacking right as Thomas was coming out of the net. With everything going against them, including time and timing, the Bruins probably thought they would just cut their losses, especially with a reasonable lead and tiebreakers over the lower teams.
Why weren’t the referees watching the puck in an attacking zone? A penalty (and ejection) should have been called on the play, but it wasn’t. And as of press time, no penalty had been brought down on Cooke by the NHL. Say the Bruins had gone after Cooke as they had to have wanted to (I myself have had visions of jamming the butt of a stick into Cooke’s throat or temple, or slashing various body parts with a skate blade). We attack them as revenge, but they inevitably think we went too far (see above vision). Then they attack us again even worse. Then we attack again. It doesn’t take long for an arms race to replace the hockey game, beating and busting all players until no one is available to finish the game.
Both teams would be right; both teams would go too far. Can you imagine the fines and suspensions that would blanket the hockey landscape like ash from Vesuvius? The Bruins got a tough run of things. There’s no need to make it even worse. Cut your losses and be the bigger men.
Of course the Bruins are angry. But anger is a powerful weapon, if used correctly. Fighting back is not using it correctly. Basic psychology dictates that if you stay focused, and use your anger as fuel, you increase your strength, hit harder shots, check harder, and get more aggressive on the rink, in a way the Bruins desperately need. If Savard’s injury serves the purpose of igniting such passions in such a manner, then there might be a silver lining. If the Bruins can focus their emotions like a gamma ray burst, then they will strike fast and furious like said burst and heat up at the right time of year, when the playoffs are looming. If the Hurricanes can make the Conference Championship as #6 in the East, then surely the Bruins can do better. Remember when as #8, the B’s took the #1 Canadiens to seven games?
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With 18 games remaining, the Bruins are in good shape. Only the Capitals should provide a big challenge to the Bruins. The Devils will also provide a challenge, but the Bruins have kept their last two meetings to one goal losses, including one in a shootout. The Sabres haven’t been too much of a problem. The Canadiens have, but still have a comparable record despite having played three more games. The Flyers might be a little tough. The one and only season match-up with the Flames could be a wild-card. But still, the Bruins don’t have much to fear in terms of landing a playoff spot. Just concentrate on offense, use Savard as motivation, and a spot in the brackets will come. Just keep an eye out on Thursday March 18 when the Penguins come to the TD Garden.