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Fraser: Drawing the line on the 'Big Bad Bruins'

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Kerry Fraser
10/20/2011 3:55:35 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry Fraser wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca!

Hello Kerry,

In the game Tuesday tonight between Boston and Carolina, the Bruins were undisciplined (including their coach being tossed deep in the third) and the refs seemed to not let anything go in a close game (most notably multiple penalties being called resulting in a lengthy 5-on-3 late in the game). I was just wondering if there is a line or code when the refs decide to 'let something go' or if they generally call everything as they see it? The game could have a different outcome had multiple penalties not been called in a row. 

Justin
Halifax, Nova Scotia

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Justin: You most appropriately described the reason that the Boston Bruins took themselves out of the game Tuesday night and lost to the Carolina Hurricanes by the score of 4-1. Beyond playing like the 'Big Bad Bruins' of old, they were utterly and completely UNDISCIPLINED and have no one to blame but themselves for the loss!

While that style of play might have been allowed on many nights in the late seventies, eighties (and to a lesser degree on occasion during the Stanley Cup playoffs and through the Final last season) I don't believe it will fly this year. Unless the B's can muster some discipline to combine with their aggressive attack I can assure you that their penalty killers will log more ice time than their first line unit; that is if the referees continue to do their job, as Wes McCauley and Paul Devorski did on Tuesday night.

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has done an outstanding job of assembling a very talented team that can beat you just about any way you want to play - except from the penalty box. They have a great blend of speed, skill, size and toughness along with veteran leadership and character players that will quickly maximize the potential and create space for their talented young guns.

On Tuesday night, however, the Bruins drew on one specific aspect of their arsenal from the opening face-off, namely toughness that moved to plain nastiness, in an attempt to make the TD Garden a House of Horrors for their opponents. After the Canes established a two-goal lead midway through the second period that Bruin “toughness” crossed the line in an attempt to swing the game in their direction. All they accomplished was to swing the penalty box door through a lack of control and defiant, in your face style of play.

Zdeno Chara raced in from his point position to instigate a fight with Jay Harrison after the Hurricane defenseman became involved in a roughing scrum that was initiated by Nathan Horton after the whistle. Tuukka Rask put the Bruins two men short on the play with his end to end skate to have words with Cam Ward during the altercation. Already down two men, the normally-disciplined Bruins defenceman Dennis Seidenberg committed an aggressive interference penalty and joined his teammates in the penalty box a minute and seven seconds later. This would be the first of two times in the game that Seidenberg would enter the penalty box with his team two men short. 

To the Bruins credit, they killed the 5-on-3 and then put themselves in a good position when Rich Peverley scored a power play goal midway through the third period to cut the Canes lead to one goal. It only took a minute and thirty seconds after the Peverley goal for the Bruins to self-destruct, starting with Nathan Horton's double minor and misconduct penalty for a ragdoll act on Tim Gleason.

Just 18 seconds later, Chara brought his stick up on Jeff Skinner in front of the net to put the Bruins down by two men again. Brad Marchand was fortunate that he didn't receive a minor penalty as well for sticking his glove (fingers/thumb) in the mouth area of Skinner after referee Devorski stopped play. Instead of a roughing or unsportsmanlike conduct penalty the refs were lenient in only assessing a 10-minute misconduct to Marchand.

Only seven seconds into the two-man disadvantage Dennis Seidenberg blatantly boarded Jeff Skinner from behind into the end boards. Referee Wes McCauley stepped up to the plate and sent Seidenberg off for the second time in the game where his lack of discipline created a delayed penalty situation for the Bruins.

The Canes scored two power play goals and it was game over - at least on the scoreboard. The Bruins weren't quite finished with the apparent message they were attempting to send.

With four minutes remaining Milan Lucic tried to engage the B's favorite target of the night, Tim Gleason and received a misconduct for his efforts while Shawn Thornton picked up a minor penalty for abuse of officials. (I would have added a misconduct to my friend Shawn Thornton and offered him an early shower since I really would not have wanted him to return to the ice on this particular night).

Claude Julien also was given an early exit from behind the bench by referee McCauley at this juncture for the coach's own lack of control and demonstrative displeasure with the turn of events that his team created for themselves.

Justin, the referees in this game did exactly what they needed to do.  The flagrant and aggressive infractions that the Bruins committed in this game must be called no matter the score or time in every game that a team plays in this fashion.  Finally, in response to the last line of your question, 'The game could have a different outcome had multiple penalties not been called in a row.' I say if the Boston Bruins had demonstrated an element of discipline instead of engaging in attempted 'thuggery' the game just might have had a different outcome.

Milan Lucic (Photo: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
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