By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.comWILMINGTON, Mass. There were plenty of strong opinions across the hockey spectrumabout the 13 fighting majors and 187 penalty minutes racked up by the Bruins and Canadiens in an old-fashioned ball of hockey hate at TD Garden on Wednesday night.There were clearlyplayers lurching over the edge and blurring the line between clean and dirty on both benches, but it appears in the aftermath that several players on the Bruins' side of things were being called out. "When you're in a fight, you're in a fight," said Gregory Campbell, channeling a little Yogi Berra after Thursday's practice. "You've got to protect yourself, and more often than not you're going to go on the offensive."It's a five-on-five brawl, and I've been on the flip side of that. You've got to protect yourself."ESPN.com's Pierre Lebrun was highly critical of Shawn Thornton and Johnny Boychuk squaring off with Roman Hamrlik and Jaroslav Spacek respectively with 41 seconds to go in the third period a pair of bouts during a line brawl that featured every player throwing down in a wild fracas.Boychuk has one fighting major this year, and is not a fighter even though its something the Colorado Avalanche foolishly tried to turn him into during his time prior to arriving in Boston.
I completely respect Lebrun and his opinion, and it would seem a bit of overkill at that point to continue beating down a Canadiens team that was already seemingly down and out with less than a minue to go in the third. But every hockey writer knows there are threesides to any stories coming out after a brawl-filled game like Wednesday night: The Habs' side, the B's side and the truth somewhere in the middle.Lets not forget a couple of things: in their last game against each otherthe Habs scored two goals in less than three minutes to shock the Bruins and make them pay for not finishing out a game as strongly as they started out. The Bs were determined to not let that happen after losing eight of their last 9 games against Montreal and when playing against their nearest competition in the Northeast Division. Boston has gone 10-4 since their collapse in Montreal, and part of that is finishing strong right up until the final buzzer.Secondly, anything really goes in a rare NHLline brawl where players can sometimes get matched up against bigger, meanerand stronger opponents. How about Max Pacioretty attempting to find something on the ice to hide under when Zdeno Chara came looking for a little hockey justice after the Montreal rookie foolishly shoved Chara in the back after scoring the overtime game-winner at the Bell Centre?Or how about P.K. Subban refusing to drop the gloves with Nathan Horton a player that is absolutely in his fighter class when the Bs scorer was willing to drop them with a young player thats madeplenty of enemies in the Boston locker room?Players like Spacek and Hamrlik were paying a price for some of their impetuous young teammates that refuse to answer for their actions the honorable way: on the ice like men.
Then theres also the simple fact that Hamrlik popped Thornton in the face the action that effectively set off the final line brawl and brought the world of pain on both Hamrlik and Spacek. As they always say, don't poke the bear in the cage.With all that being said, on to the links:Stu Hackel wonders if there shouldnt be a review of the game tapes from last nights BruinsCanadiens game because Gregory Campbell used his elbow guard like a blackjack to cut up Tom Pyatts face.A good recap over at Kuklas Korner of where the Detroit Red Wings are as they arrive in Boston and it appears the Bruins could be walking into a hornets nest if theyre not too careful.A good breakdown of Mr. Underwoods trade to the Nashville Predatorsby Friend of Haggs (FOH) John Manasso and what it means to a Preds team that looks like theyll again make the playoffs. The Hockey News Adam Proteau weighs in on the BruinsHabs game and Matt Cookes four-game suspension. I can guarantee one thing: Boston people will feel strongly about Proteaus take.James Wisniewski returns to Long Island with a bruised and battered Canadiens team, but is grateful the Isles shipped him off to Montreal.Pierre Lebrun and Scott Burnsides weigh in on the BruinsHabs game as well at ESPN.com, and Lebrun says hes disappointed in Shawn Thornton and Johnny Boychuk.Quebec City is getting a new NHL-style rink, and opening the door for another NHL team to renew the Nordiques tradition at any time. How awesome would that be?
By Joe Haggerty