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Are the big, bad Bruins being targeted by the refs?

Oct 30, 2011, 1:58 PM EDT

Old Time Hockey Getty Images

The Boston Bruins played another dumb game last night in Montreal, where the defending Cup champs put themselves shorthanded six times, surrendering two power-play goals on their way to a 4-2 defeat.

Following the loss that dropped the Bruins to 3-7-0, the second-worst mark in the NHL, captain Zdeno Chara was forced to address the issue of team discipline.

“I don’t think guys really want to take some bad penalties, it’s just the way it’s happening,” Chara told reporters. “There are a lot of emotions involved in these games and sometimes guys do things that are just automatic. I’m sure that if you would ask them they would take those things back. It’s O.K. to play with emotions but you have to be smart about it.”

When asked about Milan Lucic’s minor penalty for slashing Montreal’s P.K. Subban behind the play, Boston coach Claude Julien echoed his captain’s sentiments.

“If we’re not smart enough to take that responsibility not to get goaded in, that’s our problem,” Julien said.

Subban embellished the slash, to be sure, but that’s the risk Lucic ran when he decided to give the Montreal defenseman a love tap on the back of the leg. Subban has been known to embellish. It’s kind of his thing.

But is it just the Bruins playing dumb hockey, or is there something more to the story?’s Joe Haggerty thinks the B’s are being targeted by the NHL after “they bullied their way to a Stanley Cup championship over the Vancouver Canucks.”

One of the iconic images from last year’s 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 Marchand’s “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 B’s truly lost their cool.

For the record, Marchand received a roughing minor for giving Sedin the speed-bag treatment. Say what you will about Sedin’s lack of response, but a Vancouver power play was exactly what he was hoping for by not reacting. Marchand’s “because I felt like it” defense was certainly revealing in that it summed up a lot of what happened in the series, but were the Bruins able to take liberties with Vancouver players because the Canucks weren’t manly enough to fight back, or were they able to take liberties because the Canucks couldn’t score on the power play the way they’d done all season?

This isn’t bitterness from a Vancouver guy, by the way. The Bruins deserved to win the Cup. However, I would suggest the Bruins took liberties in the Cup finals because they weren’t paying a price on the scoreboard. And it was a good strategy against Vancouver. But it didn’t work last night. And it sure didn’t work Oct. 18 against Carolina.

Boston hosts Ottawa on Tuesday at TD Garden. If the Bruins are smart, they’ll knock it off with all the penalties. The Senators have the second-best power play (29.0%) in the NHL.

  1. habsman - Oct 30, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    Looks like they’re going to be calling sucker punches this year. A bad omen for the Bruins. Also, no Colin Campbell so having Colie’s boy Gregory won’t work this year. Bruins did not win the Stanley cup last year they won the Campbell cup.

    Being in charge of discipline, while having your son playing in the league was truely disgraceful. The NHL was a laughing stalk last year. If the officials continue to call the game the way they should, the results are a last place Bruin team.

    • grudenthediva - Oct 30, 2011 at 3:17 PM

      Bettman was already in bed with the Big Bad Bruin devil and had no choice but to stay along for the ride. When you blatantly ignore cheap shots, both at players AND fans, not to mention nudging the refs into timing their calls based upon the relative failure or success of the special teams of either the Bruins or their opponent at the time, you show your hand pretty clearly.

      Big difference between tough, hard, smart hockey and arrogant thuggery. Now they are seeing this up in Beantown, that is, if they arent skating the Cup around the ice AGAIN (talk about a hangover) with that gasbag Rancourt doing his best Tony Clifton impersonation, or discussing the joke that is the Red Sox.

    • quizguy66 - Oct 30, 2011 at 9:57 PM

      The first thing I thought of was that the lack of Colin Campbell in the league office could have something to do with this. Might be a season of “make-up” calls coming against the B’s. Wouldn’t be the first time this sort of thing happened.


    • stakex - Oct 31, 2011 at 12:50 AM

      Lets look at some stats from last year.

      During the season the Bruins were 29th in power play chances with only 122 chances. They were in the middle of the pack (16th) in penelties taken. Certainly those are not numbers skewed in their favor by the league.

      During the playoffs, the Bruins were 2nd in power play chances with 40. The Canucks were 1st with 50 chances (a full 20% more), and the Bruins and Canucks both took about the same amout of penelties during the playoffs (136-139). Again, those numbers do not scream of any conspiracy to help Boston win the cup.

      I don’t really care for either team, but as a hockey fan the series last year was refed rather evenly (a little too even to be honest). I know people like habsman here have personal issues with the Bruins (get over the Chara hit already)…. but the reality of it is there was no conspiracy to help Campbell’s son win the cup. If there was, the stats prove the refs did a horrible job pulling it off.

      In the end, the Canucks and only the Canucks choked off a 3-1 series lead. Bad calls or not, a good team should be able to win one of three games. They didn’t, and got exactlly what they deserved… so don’t try and blame the league. With that said, I don’t think Boston is getting the shaft this year either. Its fun to come up with these conspiracies, but they are always laughable at best when you look at the numbers.

  2. sonofsamiam - Oct 30, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    Danny boy whined to the ref after getting slapped silly and got himself an unsportsmanlike. Typical Canuck.

  3. spizzjr - Oct 30, 2011 at 3:49 PM


  4. nhlbruins90 - Oct 30, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    Well, the B’s got fair treatment (and the majority of PP’s) on the Thursday night game at TD Garden. So it was to be expected that the refs would do a little make-up for that on the Sat. game in Montreal. With Subban’s embellishment, it made the ref’s job that much easier. No excuses. Adapt and win.

    If the league wants to punish the B’s for their Cup win, they’re crazy. Take a look at the TV ratings in the USA for the Cup final. If the league wants to promote the prissy style of play that the Sedin twins go for, watch the ratings dive. The B’s gave the league everything they could possibly want and more. Everything.

  5. danphipps01 - Oct 30, 2011 at 10:51 PM

    Thing is, both the Canucks and the Bruins played, and to no small degree continue to play dirty hockey. The Canucks dive all over the ice. There are like three commenters on this blog who would deny that and they generally have “B.C.” or “canucks” in their usernames. But the Bs do cheap shit too. They’re not divers, but as Brough correctly put it, bullies. They run a lot more goonish players than any other team and last year won by basically tiptoing on the edge of roughing and unsportsmanlike as often as possible. Obviously, they deserved to win – they cared more and gave more and they got the reward they worked hard to earn – but it would be moronic to claim they play good, clean hockey. They take a lot of liberties with their physical game and it’s just not going to fly anymore.

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