BRIGHTON, Mass. — The game was played days ago all the way in Winnipeg, but the Bruins players were still talking about the fight-filled, intense one-goal win over the Jets on Friday night that saw Boston’s fists flying along with the two points banked in the standings.
The Bruins ended up with three fighting majors, an instigator penalty and racked up 39 penalty minutes in the first 40 minutes of the game, something that had players on the bench chuckling as they came out for the third period.
For a number of younger players on the B’s roster, particularly those with college hockey backgrounds, this was the first time they’d been involved in a game where fights seemed to be springing up all over the ice.
“I was skating out for the third and I laughed out loud at the bench when I looked up and did the math that we had 39 penalty minutes in 40 minutes of hockey. It was just one of those games I'd never been a part of one of those,” said Charlie McAvoy, who started the festivities with his big hit on Mark Schiefele midway through the first period that started another scuffle that could have been whistled as a fight as well. "It was huge credit to our penalty kill and that's something to feel good about afterward. It was Don Cherry's hardest hits hockey Volume 4.
“It was just nothing but open ice hits, and fights, and everything else. It was wild. I don’t think I’d ever been a part of those. It seemed like if you hit a guy you were going to have to fight, and there’s something about that style that doesn’t exist anymore. But I thought it was neat and something to be proud of that our team hung tough together despite age, or size, or anything like that. We didn’t back down and we got two points out of it.”
Clearly that kind of thing isn’t going to happen on most nights in today’s kinder, gentler NHL — and even when hot tempers flare, it’s not nearly the same as it was in the old days, but a few good, old-fashioned fights with players defending teammates and sticking up for themselves is something that can bond teams together like few other things.
It also sent a message for the second half of the regular season that the Bruins aren’t going to be messed with after throwing down with the bigger, stronger Winnipeg Jets roster.
“We were talking about in the locker room those video tapes back in the day that you would toss into the VCR and it was always fun. Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em hockey. It was fun,” said Torey Krug. “It all brought me back to my rookie year [with the Bruins] when we had a lot of tough guys in the locker room. It was a fun game to be a part of.”
The Bruins are now tied with the Devils and the Sharks for sixth in the NHL with 12 hockey fighting majors on the season, so they're clearly not going to turn into the Big Bad Bruins this season.
But it’s important for this B’s team to show that they still have it in them on occasion, and that’s exactly what they did last Friday night in Vancouver when McAvoy, Brad Marchand, Brandon Carlo and Karson Kuhlman all engaged in a little old-time hockey on the ice.