Bruins, Blackhawks all about respect, not revenge

Bruins, Blackhawks all about respect, not revenge
March 28, 2014, 11:30 am
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BOSTON -- It’s funny how everybody was expecting revenge or hatred to be on the minds of the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks when they met on Thursday night at TD Garden.

It was the scene of the crime, after all, where the Blackhawks stormed the Bruins for two goals within 17 seconds of each other in the third period, and clinched the Stanley Cup in Game 6 in the very last time they were in Boston prior to this March regular season showdown. But when the most passionate rallying cry from the Bruins players was that the Blackhawks trashed the visiting dressing room after winning the Cup at the Garden last June, it was pretty clear there was no revenge on their minds.

Instead it was a deep, mutual respect between two elite Original Six teams that play with honor, play the game the right way and have enough skill, toughness, talent and depth to perhaps once again meet this June. It makes sense when the two teams have players like Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith setting the tone for their hockey clubs: players that play the right way, and set that example for everybody else on the roster.

“Respect is one of those things," Claude Julien said. "I’m one of those guys that believes [Chicago] played the game the right way. There’s no embellishment, no crap, none of that stuff. It’s just hard-fought hockey from both sides. They have a lot of guys that will go to the front of the net and get their noses dirty, and we like to do the same thing. [They’re a] physical, puck moving team, and I think we match up really well. But I think there’s – sometimes when teams play the right way, they end up respecting each other.

“It doesn’t mean there aren’t good hits and it doesn’t mean there isn’t pushing and shoving, but at the end of the day there is a lot of respect. There still is after that final, it was a hard fought final and for all different reasons things happen. At the end of the day, they were the better team in the series and they won. I don’t think there is any reason for us to sit here, and say they stole it or it wasn’t fair or it was bad refereeing or anything like that. It was a hard-fought series, and the better team in that series won it.”

The Bruins took the game by a 3-0 score as their defense suffocated a Blackhawks team without Patrick Kane, and the two proud franchises renewed pleasantries with the postseason just a few weeks away.

But it was exactly what you would expect: a little pushing and shoving, and some serious heavy hits thrown around by players at both ends of the roster. But it was more about smart, positional defense once the Bruins recognized the stretch passes Chicago was using early in the game for their best offensive chances, and playing a patient offensive game while waiting for opportunities to score.

Games like Thursday night prove that the Bruins can win a thinking man’s hockey game against the skillful opponent just as handily as they can bash opponents over the head with their Black and Gold sledgehammer.

“It’s definitely a great challenge, especially when you play teams like Chicago, said Patrice Bergeron, who scored two goals in the win after he finished the Cup Final as a shell of himself following a series of serious injuries. "They’re a tough team to beat. There is definitely some history also with them last year, so it was a fun game to be a part of. I thought it was a great series last year, again this year both games we played against them were hard fought games and lots of speed and very intense.

“It’s always fun to be a part of those games but they all matter. Right now, it’s about getting better and getting ready for the playoffs.”

So while the hatred always flows when teams like the Vancouver Canucks and the Montreal Canadiens suit up against the Spoked B Tribe, it will be never be there for the Blackhawks despite falling to them at the highest level.