BOSTON – The Bruins probably didn’t feel great about facing Flyers cheap shot-throwing defenseman Radko Gudas in their final game of the preseason, and with good reason as it turned out on Saturday night. The Philly defenseman delivered a late, high shoulder to the head of Austin Czarnik in the third period of Boston’s 1-0 overtime win against the Flyers at TD Garden.
Gudas served two minutes for a boarding call that could have been interference, for certainly an illegal check to the head. Czarnik was immediately helped to the Bruins dressing room following the nasty hit, and never returned to the game after putting together an impressive training camp that pretty much won him the third line center gig with the Black and Gold.
The NHL Department of Player Safety is reviewing the Gudas hit, according to a source, and one would expect that Gudas might be facing another suspension after getting off without punishment for a similarly nasty hit on Jimmy Vesey earlier in the preseason. Bruins winger Brad Marchand said he thought the hit was “dirty” following the game, and Claude Julien didn’t try to hide his distaste for a high hit that definitely could have been avoided.
“I just looked at [the hit]. There’s no update on [Czarnik]. We saw the shoulder to the head. Somehow he seems to have a knack of getting himself in trouble every game. I didn’t like the hit personally,” said Julien. “I thought it was a little bit late, and a shoulder to the head. It’s disappointing. Here’s a young player [in Czarnik] having a good camp and really playing well, and then he ends up with a hit like that in the last few minutes.”
Clearly part of the issue is a 5-foot-9, 167-pound Czarnik is at a height where a 6-foot, 204-pound Gudas is going to probably catch him high moving in for a hard check, but the hit was late enough that it felt completely unnecessary after the puck had already left the area. Those are usually the kind of plays where the NHL comes in with supplementary discipline, particularly when it’s a repeat offender like Gudas, who was suspended three games last season for a head shot on Mika Zibanejad.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the Bruins are going into troll mode.
*Here is the aforementioned “troll mode” for the Bruins now that they’ve clinched a playoff berth. They came out with a marketing campaign where they’re dragging FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Felger for his early season take that the Bruins season is over. He also ripped the young players at the beginning of the year as well, so they used the sound from “Felger and Mazz” with video clips of David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy dominating for the Black and Gold, and shots of the young players mean mugging at the camera. It definitely shows that the Bruins perhaps care a little too much about what the media thinks about them, but it’s also a fair bit of clap-back toward a take that was a little too harsh on the B’s early in the season.
*What a great piece on the Stoneman Douglas hockey team as they embark on a national hockey tournament after winning at the state level in the weeks after the Parkland shooting.
*Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman says the Hawks aren’t shaken even as they’ll be missing the playoffs for the first time in a long time. What a disappointing season.
*Despite a great season, Taylor Hall may end up missing the playoffs with the New Jersey Devils amidst his Hart Trophy-type season.
*Good news for the Toronto Maple Leafs as Auston Matthews is returning from injury ahead of the playoffs.
*For something completely different: This new, updated version of the Karate Kid web series looks awesome with Billy Zabka and Ralph Macchio.
Bruins star center Patrice Bergeron has been dealing with a fractured foot injury since late February. He sustained the injury while blocking a shot in the loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Coach Bruce Cassidy is predicting a return for Bergeron this weekend against the Minnesota Wild if he is medically cleared. He will be evaluated tomorrow.
Depending on the results from the evaluation, there might not even be a need to rush Bergeron back with the Bruins clinching a playoff berth in a 2-1 OT loss to the Blues yesterday evening.
MORE BRUINS: Bruins clinch playoff berth in 2-1 OT loss to Blues
The Bruins currently sit six points behind the Tampa Bay Lighting for first place in the Atlantic Division. Ten games currently remain on the B’s schedule with the Presidents' Trophy also hanging in the balance.
If the B’s decide to make a run for the Presidents' Trophy, Bergeron would definitely provide a boost in play in addition to leadership for the final stretch of the regular season.