BOSTON – The Bruins certainly didn’t ordain it to be that way, but they won’t argue if the rest of the second-round series against the Montreal Canadiens is officiated just like the past two games at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
There were a grand total of five penalties called in a home barn that's always reputed to influence the officials into raising their hands. A whopping 22 penalties were whistled in the first two games at the TD Garden in Boston.
Those penalties in Boston led to four power-play goals for the Habs' P.K. Subban-led PP unit in the first couple of games and exactly zero power-play goals for either team in Montreal, where it became a battle of five-on-five play. That’s clearly the way the Bruins would like to see things officiated and far from the “crap” that Claude Julien decried after Game 2 of the series now knotted at 2 heading into Game 5 Saturday night at the Garden.
“It’s been a good job by the officiating of not calling all the little things that don’t really matter for both sides,” said Johnny Boychuk. “I think everybody wants to see great plays from individual players deciding these games rather than the officials deciding things.
“I think it favors everybody: from the fans, to the players, to the coaches...to everybody. Everybody wants to see a hard-fought match rather than on something that couldn’t have been called.”
Since the Bruins overwhelmingly led the NHL in goal-differential this season, and have been arguably the league’s best five-on-five team in the past five years, it’s clear Julien would rather some of the lesser stuff called. Still, there’s also clearly a line between “letting the boys play” in a clean game and letting both teams get away with legalized assault and battery on the ice.
“This series here might be a little different,’ said Julien. “We haven’t scored on a power play yet, we hit a crossbar in the last game, we hit a post at some point, and you have to look at all those different things.
“In the playoffs it’s important to be disciplined, and both teams are trying to be disciplined. You can say what you want, I have no complaints about the refereeing. In this series I they’ve done a wonderful job of letting both teams play. So, at the end of the night, for the most part the better has won.”
Michel Therrien let out a chuckle that a Bond Villain would be proud of when apprised of Julien’s comments. Perhaps the Montreal coach thinks that the B’s bench boss is trying to massage the refs a bit. Still, nobody in the hockey community wants to see Stanley Cup playoff games remembered for a referee’s actions more than a great player making something happen.
Thankfully that hasn’t happened through four games between the Bruins and Canadiens. The hope is that it will continue that way.