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Should the NHL do anything about Bruins’ late-game message-sending?

May 15, 2011, 2:09 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Lightning v Boston Bruins - Game One Getty Images

One of the curious things about watching a hockey game is how teams handle themselves in a blow out or when the decision in the game seems very apparent. Sometimes a team will give up completely and lose every battle possible. Other times teams look to light a fire for future games by starting up with some of the rough stuff both legal and not legal. At the end of last night’s Game 1 between Boston and Tampa Bay, the Bruins didn’t take kindly to being down  5-2 in the closing seconds and ultimately losing Game 1.

With 37 seconds remaining, players came together along the boards. Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic were caught up with a pair of different messy plays. Horton caught Dominic Moore with a sucker punch intended to start things up while Lucic came out of nowhere to blast defenseman Victor Hedman. Both Horton and Lucic were given roughing minors and ten-minute misconduct penalties. The Lightning then responded by putting their third and fourth line players out on the resulting 5-on-3 power play that wrapped up the game.

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Normally you’d chalk these things up as a “boys will be boys” scenario except that in 2009, Philadelphia’s Dan Carcillo was fined for his late-game antics in trying to send a message to the Pittsburgh Penguins after Carcillo went after Maxime Talbot. Clearly Boston was looking for some kind of spark against Tampa Bay to carry over into Game 2, but is this a situation that calls for the league to step in? Given the edict that went out two seasons ago to try and curtail the so-called message sending, it should but we all know how good the league is at fully practicing what they preach.

Boston played a miserable Game 1, one that saw them play poorly in their own end and get beaten up on the scoreboard and the Bruins feed off the physical play. Giving themselves something to latch on for Game 2 to give themselves a spark makes sense because it can get the Lightning to do something they didn’t do in Game 1: Retaliate.

Some coaches will complain to the media about getting calls to get the attention of officials, others call players out, sometimes a team needs to light a fire in a different way. If motivation to win the Stanley Cup isn’t enough to get a team going then perhaps that team has more issues than they’re letting on.

In this case, Boston was frustrated with how Tampa Bay turned the game on them and forced them to play catchup all night. Boston doesn’t want to play that game and while the Bruins’ power play has been awful, getting the Lightning to take more penalties is never a bad thing.

Should the NHL step in here? It seems clear what the Bruins were intending to do but is it enough to warrant the league’s attention?

  1. trigdaddy - May 15, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    Absolutely should be suspended a game each. You know what this is when it’s not in the NHL? Assault.

    • bigtull - May 15, 2011 at 8:02 PM

      They should be supended for the rest of the play-offs! The style of play of the 60’s, 70’s, and WHA are gone!

      • deepthreat - May 15, 2011 at 8:13 PM

        Suspensions ??? LMAO.
        How about you grow some or shut up and go watch some synchronized swiiming.

      • vergedrums - May 16, 2011 at 12:43 PM

        You are right. Why do these morons deserve to play the rest of the season?

        Boston needs to man up. They’re grown men with the brains of tiny little boys. Always a ridiculous combination.

        The League needs to start policing the players. Why shoudl TB give up power plays in order to retaliate, when the League should be suspending these goons?

        Retalitation isn’t what’s needed anyway. It’s punishment that’s needed.

    • trigdaddy - May 16, 2011 at 1:50 AM

      deepthreat – I understand. Your a Bruins fan your biased. I could care less about Horton’s sucker punch it was Lucic’s that did damage. And I guess its a pretty tough thing to do to sucker punch some guys when there is a minute left in a game they are beating you in.

      • deepthreat - May 16, 2011 at 8:40 AM

        They both got tossed. Neither of the players who got punched got hurt other than maybe landing hard on the ice after a phony dive. And in case you missed the game, they were both retaliatory punches. Happens in front of the net all the time. All you crybabies calling for suspensions during the CONFERENCE FINALS need to get a clue and take a look at the hits during the regular season that injure players and don’t even draw penalties, let alone suspensions.

      • trigdaddy - May 16, 2011 at 1:14 PM

        The problem is I didn’t miss the game. Retaliatory punches? For what…Losing? Horton was outmuscled and tossed to the ice trying to get the puck…so he gets up and punches the guy in the face. Don’t even bother trying to back Lucic. All he did was come up and hit someone for no reason.

        It is amazing how much being biased can really change your thinking. Im guessing at the end of EVERY playoff game when the game isn’t close, the losers can just start punching people without any repercussions. They already lost the game, so penalties do nothing. Cause thats the type of hockey the NHL really wants played.

      • hortanfan18 - Jul 19, 2011 at 9:05 PM

        For one fighting comes with the sport. And you are just a fan of the other team mad that they did not get suspended. I am sure that if your team started punchin any of the Bruins I am sure you would think it would be ma because they just took the sutiion to the extreme and suspended them for the rest of the season. I mean come on it was the CONFERENCE FINALS were talking about you do not through them out for fighting because it is part of the sport. GET A LIFE and pay attion very carefuly to what happens in evry game there is always a fight and with all the fights there are there would be no players left on any team.

    • nhlbruins90 - May 16, 2011 at 4:24 PM

      So boxing should be banned, and boxers arrested for assault? Why do all the beautiful people show up at boxing matches in Vegas, then turn their nose up at fighting in hockey? They’re ignorant and don’t know the first thing about hockey.

      • trigdaddy - May 16, 2011 at 4:48 PM

        Oh yeah cause I said anything about fighting. When two guys agree to fight, let them. When two people run up and sucker punch two others, there’s a problem. I said a one game suspension, and you change it into assault charges.

    • kyllonenk - May 19, 2011 at 1:40 PM

      you know what tackling is when it’s not in the NFL? Assault. You know what an upper cut is outside the boxing ring? Assault. What a terrible argument….

  2. truthseekerone - May 15, 2011 at 5:54 PM

    Are you kidding me? REALLY?
    Lightnings fans are outraged after those Bruins players unsportman like conduct. It is the way it’s gonna be for the Lightnings? Trying to deliberately hurt our players at the end of games should warrant suspensions. But it’s ok because the gamblers are loosing money? The refs tried everything in their power to give chances to Washington because they were favorites, now Boston? Are you serious?

    Another guy just died most likely because of a concussion and it’s ok to sucker punch a defenless player? REALLY?

    It’s time people come to grip with the fact that Guy Boucher is a genius and should undeniably be coach of the year, period.

  3. bcjim - May 15, 2011 at 7:08 PM

    Go away troll or provide some evidence about the concussion.

    • truthseekerone - May 15, 2011 at 8:05 PM

      Hey you a-hole, I’ve been watching hockey for 40 years and played when I was a kid, I think
      I have the right to my opinion without being call a troll. You’re just has classless as the Bruins thugs.
      Outta here.

      • deepthreat - May 15, 2011 at 8:12 PM

        Give me a break.
        Those were a couple of nudges with gloves on.
        The Lightning played it up to get penalties/suspensions just like the cowards that they are and have been all year with their faking flopping.
        Reminded me of the Canadiens.

      • trigdaddy - May 16, 2011 at 1:53 AM

        Id rather see guys diving then sucker punching each other.

  4. cynicl1 - May 15, 2011 at 8:15 PM

    Indeed they should sit a game and be hit in the pocket, it wasn’t part of the game it was a deliberate attempt to hurt someone just because the Bruins had been embarrassed.

  5. demons87 - May 16, 2011 at 12:57 AM

    First off, Moore was getting his stick up on Horton and Horton let him know that was uncalled for as any respectable hockey player would. Note the announcer talking about Horton getting caught retaliating, which means Moore was guilty first. He just got away with it.

    As Horton and Moore they skated off, Lecavalier hooked Horton’s skate. Whether Lucic was standing up for a friend or just looking for some fun, I’m not sure. I didn’t see if he started his charge before or after the hook.

    So the Lightning are not without blame here.

    Finally, the rough hockey is what is played in every other city than Tampa this year. They got rid of Konopka who was their best tough guy. Enforcers are there for a reason, as Stamkos and Downie are finding out this year. Stamkos is getting blown up all the time and Downie has no one to protect him when he pulls his crap. I live in Tampa and wish they would get some tough guys to make the home games more fun.

  6. aschwartz2011 - May 16, 2011 at 5:36 AM

    Boston will get off without any penalties thanks to Campbells daddy in Toronto…

    There were some great articles about this earlier in the season….I don’t think he should be allowed to make any decisions about games in which Boston is involved…it is the ultimate conflict of interest

  7. tommytd - May 16, 2011 at 6:13 AM

    Hey the NHL created this monster, now they can live with it. I’ll tell you one thing though…if they’re going to depend on their “disciplinary officer” Mr. Campbell to fix this, they’re in a heap of dung. I’ve listened to this guy and I think he’s an idiot!

  8. truthseekerone - May 16, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    Thugs fighting in the PLAYOFFS is as dated as popcorn ceilings.

  9. mimone12 - May 16, 2011 at 11:10 AM

    Whatever the official NHL policy is, that is what should be handed down. If it’s not then there is a stinky fish in beantown. As for the Lighting, they are the superior hockey team. Can they out-thug boston, no….. out-play,yes. Those where sucker punches, a sign of a true coward. I’m confident that the Bolts will use it for fuel to win Tuesdays game and ultimatly defeat the not-so-mighty Boston Bruins.

    • truthseekerone - May 16, 2011 at 11:26 AM

      The least the NHL could do is “rollover” those penalties. This way instead of their thuggish “message sending” for the next game. They’d start in the PB. Easy fix IMO.

  10. govtminion - May 16, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    Suspension-worthy? No on Horton, borderline on Lucic. I’d say not, but speaking as a diehard Bruins fan I will admit that I’m disappointed that the team went to this kind of tactic to close out the game. The Flyers got blown out a couple of times by these same B’s a couple of weeks ago themselves, and even the famously-edgy Flyers didn’t resort to this sort of thing. I hope the Bruins- well, I hope they don’t end up in a nasty blowout of a game like that again anyway, but if they do I hope they’ll act with a little more class and style than what we saw Saturday.

  11. nhlbruins90 - May 16, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    You know, I was thinking about watching the B’s next game on Tuesday, but then I realized they’re showing The Ladies Tea Dance on my local cable station at the same time. It’s so great, they bow and curtsy to each other and play refined classical chamber music. Between songs, the ladies discuss proper courtship etiquette for the young gentlemen in the audience. Sometimes I watch it with my grandmother and her friends at the home. We love it.

    Christ almighty! This is NHL hockey. Get a grip. I ain’t paying $150 to see contact-free and emotion-free hockey. Get a new hobby and start advocating contact-free football for the NFL.

    • kusheadpotman - May 16, 2011 at 7:21 PM

      I think you, as well as most other Bruin’s fans, are missing the point.

      When a player in the NFL tackles another player after the play is over then it’s a foul.

      In the NHL, it’s perfectly legal to hit other players, to plow into them and knock them to the ground, to slam them into the wall and hopefully break their face on the glass. It’s a man’s game, however it is a cowards game to sucker punch someone after the play is over.

      The Bruin’s played a cowards game. Get over it

      • deepthreat - May 17, 2011 at 11:49 AM

        I think the Bruins fans in here have been spot on.
        None of us are saying that Horton and Lucic SHOULD have done what they did.
        We are just saying that to suggest that those punches deserve more than the misconducts that they received in the CONFERENCE FINALS is ridiculous.
        And BTW, anyone who has watched Lucic and Horton for more than 5 minutes knows that they aren’t cowards.

      • govtminion - May 17, 2011 at 12:34 PM

        Agree with deepthreat 100%. These would get a player tossed in January, but nothing more. Are we really suggesting that just because it’s the conference finals, the rules should be different?

        It’s a physical game, the B’s were a little out of sorts and made a statement (and again, I wish they hadn’t), end of story, see you for Game 2. I’m sure that no player on the Lightning roster has ever been involved in something like that before, aren’t you?

      • kusheadpotman - May 17, 2011 at 5:04 PM

        For the record I never said they should get suspended. I like fiery players that hit people, I’d just prefer they do it when the game clock is going.

        I would support their 10 minute punishment being rolled over to game 2. I don’t know hockey rules well enough to know if that would happen or not, but it seems justified in my eyes. It would certainly stop the cocky pop shots at the end of a game if they’re losing.

        Looking forward to the rest of this series, sure hope the Bolts bring their brooms out again. I don’t think Boston will let it go that easily though!

      • trigdaddy - May 17, 2011 at 6:17 PM

        The only reason there wasn’t a suspension is because no one got seriously hurt. I can’t grasp much reasoning behind your thoughts. By saying what they did is OK, you are basically saying that the Bruins could continue to do this every game they lose for the rest of the post season and it would be alright.

        And what are people blabbing about suspensions in the conference finals….don’t sucker punch someone in a CONFERENCE FINAL game, then you won’t have to worry about penalties/suspensions.

  12. iaintafrate - May 19, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    Suspensions for run of the mill roughing minors?? The pussification of the NHL continues. Delusional little crybabies whining about every boarderline hit, every missed call, every dive…. Get over it, it’s all part of the game and has been forever. If you don’t like it go watch Johnny Weir attempt the triple sow cow.

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