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.