TORONTO It turned into a roughing penalty for Jordan Caron in the third period, but there was a lot the Bruins liked about a play that first started with Dion Phaneuf flattening Chris Kelly by the blue line.
The hit arrived quickly and surprisingly for Kelly, and perhaps a little too late for Phaneuf and the Leafs since the game had already well been decided in a 7-0 win for the Bruins at Air Canada Center on Saturday night.
Some instant-replay jockeys thought the hit was a little on the dirty, given that Phaneuf left his skates ever so briefly after making an impact with Kellys upper body.
Some Toronto wags also felt Phaneuf should have woken up and actually started playing a little defense earlier in the game instead of watching Milan Lucic blow right past him for Bostons third goal in the second period.
You have to wonder how many times those in Toronto were decrying the disappearing act of their captain during the winning and losing portion of the game early on before the Bruins ran up a touchdown on them. All of that along with Phaneufs minus-3 for the evening likely went into the spring-loaded slam of Kelly when the Bs center found himself in a prime position to be catapulted.
The best part: thoughts from Kelly about the play being a good, hard competitive hockey play rather than the whining or chest-thumping that can sometimes accompany a jarring hit on the ice.
Its a non-issue. I think if you ask every guy in our room they still want to see hits like that remain in the game, said Kelly. Nobody wants to take the physical part of the game out.
While Seguin vs. Kessel does seem a little played out and Kessel vs. the Bruins even more so -- after more than a dozen permutations of the individual match-up that have come up over the last three seasons, there was plenty of refreshing things about the Phaneuf hit in the third period.
The best teammate to Kelly in the moment immediately afterward was Jordan Caron arriving -- without hesitation -- to the defense of his teammate. The second-year player stood over Phaneuf and gave him a quick little shove to remind him there are consequences after his train-wreck hit.
Caron, of course, went on to the penalty box after the shove with a roughing penalty for responding for an overwhelmingly clean hockey hit. But the first year player wouldnt have been blamed if he was timid in the face of split-second decision in the wake of his fallen teammate.
He reacted correctly, and those are the kind of good penalties teams will rally around and kill off when it comes to winning and losing time for the Bruins over the course of a long hockey season.
Other players noticed Carons reactive move for the team-building purposes they represented, and snapped the mental pictures of a team building the right kind of chemistry. The Bruins are at their best when theyre standing up for each other and preventing other teams from taking liberties with any of their players.
The rookie forward did his part to step in for his alternate captain in Kelly, and his veteran leader appreciated it after seeing many times when big hits have gone unnoticed by a team that couldnt be bothered.
Were sticking up for each other, were a close group and thats awesome. But I think that really reflects the score a lot more than the hit, said Kelly. We really thought that we went out and played our game against the Leafs and that we really find our identity.