Saturday, December 7, 2013
Could Anything Else Have Happened in Boston's Thrilling 3-2 Over Pittsburgh?
Can we just fast forward to another Eastern Conference Finals between the Bruins and Penguins? You know it's going to come down to that again, right? Oh well, I guess we'll have to let tonight's chock-filled game tide us over until then since it was the third and final installment of the regular season meetings (B's won 2 of 3). Boston (19-8-2) beat Pittsburgh (20-10-1) 3-2 thanks to two goals in the final 1:29 but all anyone could talk about was Shawn Thornton knocking out Brooks Orpik.
It all started in the first period when Orpik went high on Loui Eriksson, a hit that wasn't deemed penalty worthy yet resulted a second concussion this season for the Swede. Later in the frame, Brad Marchand was tripped by Sidney Crosby and scummy James Neal happened to skate by him and knee Marchand in the head. Don't worry though, Neal said after the game that it was an accident. The next part was especially ugly as Thornton went after Orpik and punched him when he was on the ice and thus couldn't really defend himself. Orpik was knocked out cold and had to be carted off on a stretcher. The good news there is that he's flying back to Pittsburgh with his teammates after a trip to the hospital.
Thornton will be suspended, possibly for six games or more since he has an in-person (never a good sign) meeting with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. Neal has a phone meeting which means he could get a game or two (keep in mind he's a repeat offender while Thornton has never actually been suspended).
Oh yes, there was a hockey game too. Chris Kunitz was credited with a power play goal (it is the giving season) which was actually an intended pass that bounced in the net off Zdeno Chara's skate at 6:33 of the first period. Reilly Smith answered at 10:13 with his sixth goal of the season as Patrice Bergeron stole the puck and fed him for a slap shot that Marc-Andre Fleury (18 saves) had no chance to stop.
Speaking of that dirtbag Neal, he can certainly score goals on top of all his bush league tactics. He got another fluky power play goal when he popped out of the penalty box and found a hole in Tuukka Rask's (28 saves) pads at 13:13.
Boston looked out of it but then that's when they usually respond, especially at the Garden. David Krejci tied it at two at 18:31 of the third period with his fifth goal of the season after Rask had been pulled for an extra skater. Zdeno Chara was screening Rask while Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla had the assists. 1:16 later (with 13 seconds left in regulation) captain Zdeno Chara took a pretty pass from Smith and put a snap shot in the corner. Marchand had the second assist on Chara's seventh goal of the season.
With all this craziness, the B's had to hop on a flight for Toronto since they are playing the Maple Leafs (16-11-3) tomorrow night (7, NESN). I think Rask will sit although maybe with Eriksson, Thornton and Chris Kelly (lower body injury that nobody saw) all out, Bruins head coach Claude Julien elects to go with his stability. We shall see, everyone get some sleep.
12/8: The hits keep coming, Kelly has a broken right fibula from Pascal Dupuis' slash. He was placed on long-term IR and is expected to be out for 4-6 weeks (this happened last season too). Adam McQuaid also went on IR so forwards Matt Fraser and Ryan Spooner were called up from Providence and will be in the lineup tonight in Toronto. Keep in mind Boychuk is out indefinitely, the Bruins say a week but I'll believe it when I see it with his back injury that looked pretty serious.