It was, without a doubt, the most heavily-hyped match in what's been a listless season for the Boston Bruins. For the price of admission, a boisterously disenchanted fan base wanted to see the hometowners (hard to call 'em heroes at this juncture) wrest two points from the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins and have someone,
They quickly got some of what they came for. Bruins enforcer
Give Cooke some credit. As the man who delivered that Grade 2 concussion to Savard with a ruthless hit 12 days ago, he understood his role in this drama. Responsibility is at the core of the Code, after all. So he stood up to the larger Thornton and even got in the first punch before he was felled by a cascade of rights that continued even after he fell to the ice. And the crowd, silenced by so many disappointing nights this season, roared.
That each player was able to skate to the box under his own power was no small blessing considering the carnival of carnage the league has staged over the past couple weeks. No blood. No broken bodies. Just five minutes to rest some sore knuckles, and on with the game.
The question then was: would that be enough? Would the Bruins be satisfied with their pound of flesh? Apparently they were. A little too satisfied. "Him stepping up and doing the right thing put some water on the fire," Thornton said of Cooke afterwards.
And so, instead of building on the emotion of the beating, the Bruins seemed drained by it. They managed just five shots on net in the first period, and five more in the second. Even a fight instigated by captain
Big, Bad Bruins? More like little, sleepy cubs.
The Pens took advantage of that lethargy, scoring a goal in each period and limiting the offensively-challenged Bruins to just 17 shots on the way to a decisive 3-0 win. What could have been the defining moment of this frustrating campaign, a spiritual circling of the wagons that empowered and emboldened the Bruins as they aimed to secure a playoff bid and erase a season's worth of disappointment was, instead, rock bottom.
No question the Pens, even without
Because, for all the talk of avenging Savard, that moment of truth quietly passed nearly two weeks ago. The time to address that bit of business was either while Savard was lying on the ice or the very next moment that Cooke stepped on it. That it was left to fester and distort what really mattered on the night is a blight on the character of this team. And the fans, who seemed alone in recognizing that winning and physical accountability are not mutually exclusive, let them know it.
So now what?
Nearly 40 years removed from their last Stanley Cup -- a sad state highlighted by a pre-game ceremony honoring members of the legendary 1970 squad -- this team will go down to the wire just to make the postseason. With 12 games left, the eighth-place Bruins hold a slim, three-point lead over the Rangers and Thrashers, with a must-win game against New York on Sunday afternoon. On paper, there's hope. But the serenade of boos that filled the building as the B's skated off tells you that the fans believe that the timer has already pinged on this season.
At this point, why believe otherwise? Listening to
They'll put up with a lot in Boston. But a lack of passion? That's an ender.
If there's a bright side in the aftermath of the
"First of all, we love the way Wiz plays and we want him to play the game hard," Ducks GM
This comes just a week after respected Pittsburgh Penguins vet
"We're all under the same umbrella, whether the guy's on my team and I'm sitting right next to him or he's playing in California," Guerin said. "It doesn't matter. We're all playing in the same league. We all want the same safety. We all want to be looked after the same way. I understand [Cooke] is on my team but, hey, he's in a tough spot."
Not everyone gets it of course,
Regardless of the duration, it's become clear that the suspensions are toothless in terms of deterrence -- this was Wisniewski's second of the year and overall the 28th in the NHL this season. If there's going to be any meaningful change in behavior, it has to start with the players. Not in the broad NHLPA brotherhood sense (as if that headless group can do much more than issue hopeful press releases at this point), but teammate to teammate. Accountability that begins in the room and in the organization is the path to fewer incidents on the ice. Nice to see that at least some teams are starting to get the picture.
"I am fully committed to this team and university," said Minnesota Golden Gophers center
Things change, of course, and despite that public declaration of loyalty, it was something less than a surprise to hear that Schroeder had foregone his final two seasons with the Minnesota Golden Gophers to go pro with the Canucks this week.
Schroeder, the team's first-round pick in 2009, was the latest player that scouts feared was regressing under the guidance of Gophers coach
"It was a round peg, square hole situation," the scout said. "You could sense his frustration with how he was being used."
Schroeder was only the latest in a growing line of players to bolt Minnesota early. Defenseman
Schroeder, meanwhile, is headed to Manitoba of the AHL to start his pro career. He could see time in Vancouver before the season is over.
The other nominees include a pair of Red Wings prospects: Maine forward
Other drafted players in the running for the award: Northern Michigan forward