Remember how awful Joel Ward felt when his double minor for high-sticking in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals led to the Rangers game-tying and game-winning goals and ultimately altered the course of the Capitals magical playoff run?
Now you know how Devils forward Steve Bernier feels this morning.
Bernier was assessed a major for boarding and a game misconduct early in Monday nights 6-1 loss to the Kings after slamming defenseman Rob Scuderi from behind midway through the first period.
Scuderi suffered cuts to his nose and mouth and Bernier was escorted off the ice and into an empty visitors dressing room, where he heard three loud roars from the Staples Center crowd, a sobering indication that the Kings had scored three power-play goals on their road to their first-ever Stanley Cup.
Its extremely hard, Bernier told reporters after the game. It's been a long playoff run for us and we had a lot of good things going for us. To finish on that note, its not fun, for sure. But at the same time, there's nothing I can do now.
Bernier still thinks a major penalty was not warranted for his hit on Scuderi, who returned for the start of the second period.
From my point of view, I dont, Bernier said. I know he stayed down. After that, I didn't see anything. It's a fast game. There were hard hits all over the ice. You want to help your team, you don't want to get five minutes and help them lose.
I'm going to finish my hit. I thought he was going to keep going forward and he put on the brakes. At the time, I was already committed to the hit. It's tough to stop when you get there that fast. I feel bad, for sure. I wish I could take that play back.
The Devils bench was infuriated at the call, especially since it came seconds after the Kings Jarret Stoll ran Devils forward Stephen Gionta into the boards from behind without a call. As NBC analyst Keith Jones pointed out between periods, if a call on Stoll is made, the hit on Scuderi never happens.
To their credit, the Devils controlled their anger after the game, which turned into a rout.
You know, tonight is about L.A. and letting them celebrate, Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. If you want to ask me about that in about a week, I'll give you my honest opinion on it.
Devils captain Zach Parise was equally controlled.
Trust me, he said, I'd love to sound off on that right now.
Much like the Capitals rallied around Ward after their Game 5 loss, the Devils showed support for Bernier.
I told him not to worry about it,Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said. It's not his fault. I'm sure he's blaming himself. That's the nature to do that. That was a big effect on the game. But again, he plays the game and we got success from him because of the way he played. I think it's just an unfortunate call. I didn't see it, so I can't judge if it was a bad call or a good call. It took us out of our chance to win a Stanley Cup.
It was just an unfortunate situation for a player who plays the game really hard," Brodeur said. "He's going to have to live with that and I don't think it's a fair thing. That's what happens when one person has the fate of a hockey game in their hands.