Last night in a 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Boston Bruins racked up 40 minutes in misconducts to go with their 22 regular penalty minutes, and generally acted like bullies.
If you’re a Bruins fan, that was a good sign.
There’s no way to persuade someone who hated their actions (moral high ground!) or anyone who was rooting for the Hurricanes that their behaviour was a positive, but at least try to see how it was the right thing for the B’s season.
Remember something important about this group: the Bruins were, and are a bully of a team. Do you remember what they did to the Dallas Stars in a regular season game last year? I don’t care who started those fights, the B’s finished them. Their roster easily sports the most players who can both contribute effectively and beat the living hell out of you if necessary. They finished with the 2nd-most fights in the NHL last year with 71 regular season go-rounds, and likely finished 1st in the completely made-up “fights won” category.
So yes. The Bruins have succeeded partly by playing the role of tough guy. They’re a nasty team and it works for them.
So after the tough start to the year (and game), it’s a good sign that their frustration finally showed up and reared it’s ugly head. This team clearly does care this year. They’re not coasting through the season, shining their rings unil playoffs then seeing if they can pull off something magical again. That’s what you’d see if they didn’t expect immediate success once again (that expectation is probably the cause of the slow start too. They need to remember how hard they had to play last year).
They’re pissed they’re losing now, and they want it to stop.
In the end, those games where everyone is fighting mad and acting on it bring you together. Sports are a testosterone-packed mess, and damned if I haven’t high-fived a teammate and felt exhilarated in the dressing room after one of those full-line equipment yard sales. Maybe you think they should already be close - they won the Cup last season and their roster is nearly identical. But each season really is a new season (which, incidentally, is why they should have never re-carried the cup around the ice opening night) and you do have to re-establish your identity.
Teams that are good fall off at some point, and this was them showing they’re the same team. The Blackhawks traded most of their team after their Cup and struggled to find their identity in the new season. The Bruins reminded us with those actions that they didn’t lose a good number of people, and they’ll still hold your jersey and rabbit punch your face until you do something about it.
In the big picture for them - maybe not last night – that’s a good thing.
I’m no raving fan of the Bruins, and I’m no knuckle-dragging monster clapping for violence.
But I’ve been around enough hockey to know that if the B’s started rolling over and not punching back (or first), their season would look a lot sketchier than it does after last nights display against Carolina.