Boston, MA --
|Boston Bruins' Shawn Thornton, top center, throws Anaheim Ducks' George Parros to the ice during a fight in the second period of a hockey game in Boston, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson) |
It’s fitting that a game like last night’s 6-0 blowout against the Anaheim Ducks would come on the anniversary of a 1981 game in which the Boston Bruins and the Minnesota North Stars set an NHL record for the most penalty minutes in a game. And while the B’s and Ducks didn’t rack up quite as many penalties last night as in that game (58 minutes total as opposed to 406 minutes worth in 1981; 195 for Boston, 211 for Minnesota), it was certainly a rough-and-tumble contest.
“You don’t want to take foolish penalties; those kind of penalties always come back to haunt you,” said head coach Claude Julien, “but it’s about standing up for yourself, for your teammates, and teams that want to be physical, I think we’ve got the players, and we’ve got the team to be just as physical as anybody in the league.”
The “foolish penalties” of the Ducks, however, proved to be a godsend for the B’s, who found themselves on power plays more often than not during the second period, and who scored two of their six tallies while on those power plays.
“To be honest, they were playing hard,” said Chuck Kobasew, who scored two goals. “I don’t know if [it was] just a little bit of frustration…[but] we got some power plays and we took advantage of it.”
That, of course, was not much to Anaheim’s liking, and in a physical game with a physical team, that results in some pretty big fights, the first of which was by Shawn Thornton
, sticking up for Marc Savard
and taking on the very, very big George Parros midway through the second period.
“He finished his hit on Savvy,” explained Thornton. “I didn’t really see whether it was dirty or clean…but I know Savvy was laying there, and it’s my job to go address that. So, that’s it.”
Sure, Thornton played for the Ducks, so he’s “good friends” with Parros, but, “once the skates are on, it doesn’t matter,” he said.
“We’re not going to get pushed around,” Thornton said. “Guys stand up for each other. We have a close locker room, and we’ll go to bat for each other.”
Dropping his gloves, did Thornton think about his approach at all?
“I just get the mitts off and hope for the best,” he said with a smile. “I didn’t really have a game plan going in. I’ve seen him fight a lot, and he’s a big, strong man…and he does good against all the big guys, so I knew I’d have my hands full.”
Another B’s tough guy, Milan Lucic
, took his chances with Mike Brown about five minutes later. Heading to the box, Lucic looked, Julien agreed, angrier than usual.
“We were asking on the bench what happened, what initiated that,” he said, “but from what I heard, they got a cheap shot to start off, and I guess that’s what set him off.”
|Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, foreground, looks back to see a goal scored by Boston Bruins' Chuck Kobasew (not shown) as Phil Kessel, background, looks on during the second period of a hockey game in Boston, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson) |
Lucic himself was unavailable after the game due to an “upper-body injury,” but Julien praised the forward’s performance.
“Lucic plays physical all the time, because he’s a physical player, and we expect that out of him every night,” he said. “As far as dropping the gloves, I don’t think we’re encouraging them to do that, but they’re certainly willing when the time is right.”
The fights got the crowd roaring, and they probably pumped the teams up, too, but it was the grit shown by the entire Bruins bench that gave them such a decisive victory.
“A lot of guys play their best hockey when they’re bumping guys out there, when they’re playing physical, and when they just kind of play with an edge,” said Blake Wheeler. “I think a lot of guys are starting to find that rhythm again, where they’re not thinking so much out there, they’re not worrying about the end result, they’re just reacting and just playing hard.
"I guess that’s the best formula to be successful.”