Bruins feeling boxed in by refs

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Bruins feeling boxed in by refs

MONTREAL The Bruins believe the National Hockey League might just be on the lookout for them this season after they bullied their way to a Stanley Cup championship over the Vancouver Canucks, and they have the numbers to prove it.

One of the iconic images from last years Cup Finals was Brad Marchand punching the closest available Sedin with five or six jabs to the head while A) the refs refused to call any penalties and B) Sedin refused to protect himself or engage with Marchand when nobody came to his defense. Even better was Marchands because I felt like it defense.

Now it looks like the league is keeping close tabs on Boston this season via their refereeing crews. The refs have called a bevy of penalties on the Black and Gold in the early portions of the season, and that has played into Boston's difficulties.

The Bruins were whistled for eight penalties and 19 penalty minutes in a 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on Saturday night, and at least three of the calls were retaliatory penalties after the Bs truly lost their cool.

Any time we retaliate were getting called for it, said Marchand. Teams are staying away from physical fights and stuff like that with us. They know that gets us going and gets us a lot of emotion. So other teams are trying to stay away from it.

We have to be able to take it and hurt them on the scoreboard. Thats the way you do it.

Coach Claude Julien blew his stack several times during the game with some interesting gestures at the refs, and afterward the Bs coach felt like the Bruins are being treated differently as the big, bad bully on the block by the NHL.

I thought it was a tough night as far as a lot of the calls were concerned said Julien. Thats my opinion. Overall you dont look at that, but you blame yourselves and your discipline. We have that reputation and it's there. We have to be careful because theyre looking at us to retaliate and then penalize us. We have to be smarter in that area.

We have to somehow find a way to stay focused and grind things out like we did in the third period when we found a way to get back into the game.

P.K. Subban was able to induce both Milan Lucic and Andrew Ference into taking penalties when they came after the Montreal defenseman the Habs scored a power-play goal after Ferences roughing call and Nathan Horton took an extremely selfish cross-checking penatly inretaliationon immovable object Hal Gill in the third period with his team down by a 3-1 score.

More surprising, however, is the amount of penalties the Bruins are taking on this season after having been one of the least-penalized teams in the league over the last few years; only the Ottawa Senators have more than the Bs 175 penalty minutes this season (17.5 per game).The Bruins were closer to middle of the pack last season with 13.6 penalty minutes per game last season.

The 61 overall penalties whistled on the Bruins ranks them among the five worst in the NHL this season, and it screams out a hockey team that A) definitely fights a bit more than most teams while attracting major penalties and B) also clearly is having some issues staying disciplined and under control when its required of them while trailing the majoriy of the time.

Guys were a little more frustrated as I was, to be honest with you, with some of the things where wed reach out with a stick to make a play. Then, as soon as you put a finger on the player, the hand goes up for a penalty, said Julien. That was frustrating. We lost our focus a little bit and thats when the retaliatory penalties came into play.

We need to stay focused and stop blaming everybody else around us.

Whether it was an edict from high among the NHL officials to call things a little more closely on the Cup champion Bruins or a group of players that simply cant get with the discipline program this season, the Bs need to smarten up if they hope to cure their current hangover.

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.