MONTREAL Theres nothing like some old-fashioned hatred to get the Bruins back on their toes.
The hatred was, of course, directed at Zdeno Chara. In a show of blind audacity, the Bell Centre crowd stood and lustily cheered when Chara lay on the ice, injured, after being hit in the throat by a puck fired off the stick of Tomas Plekanec.
Plekanec showed his class and sportsmanship by checking immediately on Chara as soon as the 6-foot-9 defenseman was felled, but the Montreal fan base chose a different tact with raucous cheering. It was their idea of revenge for Chara's hit on Max Pacioretty last year, in which the Montreal forward suffered a severe concussion and fractured vertebrae in his neck when he was ridden into the stanchion. The NHL chose not to punish Chara, ruling it was a hockey play, but that didn't stop a period of near mass insanity in Montreal, which culminated in the police being pressured to investigate whether criminal charges should be brought. (They weren't.)
That incident, in and of itself, probably indicated where many Canadien followers reside on that fine line between being devoted fans or being a bloodthirsty mob severely in need of a reality check. When they gave Chara's injury a rousing standing ovation, it clinched the verdict.
And it infuriated the Bruins.
That was embarrassing," said Brad Marchand. "The fact that they were cheering like they did when Zee was hurt was classless."The normally stoic Chara didn't like it either even if he wasn't quite surprised.
"The way the fans react I cant control, but at the same time its not sportsmanlike and its disappointing, said Chara. When a guy is laying down on the ice hurting and theres a standing ovation for that . . . what can I say? There is nothing much I can say about it."
This is a fan base that, in the past, has a) booed the U.S. national anthem, b) rioted and burned police cruisers in "celebration" of a first-round playoff win over the Bruins in 2007-08, and c) flooded the 911 emergency line with calls after Chara's hit over Pacioretty. So over-the-top behavior is nothing new in Montreal.
But Marchand pointed out that there's a time and place for everything . . . and injuries aren't the time for that sort of rabid fandom to be on display.
Were out there trying to do a job," he said. "Its entertainment for them, but at the same time you have to be concerned that its peoples lives at stake. Concussions and stuff like that are a very serious thing, and you dont have to disrespect guys when theyre trying to make a living for their family and theyre hurt like that.