The Bruins will be honoring the 40th anniversary of the 1970 Stanley Cup Champion team Thursday night before and after the current Bruins' much-anticipated rematch with the Pittsburgh Penguins
at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET, NHL Network-U.S.
Much has been made of Thursday night's game because of what did and didn't happen the last two times these two teams met. Penguins' forward Matt Cooke
instantly became Public Enemy No. 1 in Boston with his blindside hit on Marc Savard
that knocked Savard out indefinitely with a concussion. But it was the lack of response then and the subsequent decision of the NHL not to suspend Cooke that has Boston fans and media hyping this game as a "payback" or "revenge" game for the Bruins.
While fans and media may be expecting something similar to the heyday of that 1970 team and the "Big Bad Bruins" of the 70's, players from both sides insisted Thursday that the critical two points in the conference and division standings are of the utmost priority -- not retribution.
"This isn't the 1970s," head coach Claude Julien
told reporters. "There won't be a bench-cleaning brawl. You guys need to turn the page."
That was pretty much the sentiment on both sides as the players stressed how important a game this is for the team and that in the case of the Bruins, who are clinging on to the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, fans may be more upset with the Bruins if they don't make the playoffs because they let two points slip away in favor of retribution.
"This isn't the 1970s. There won't be a bench-cleaning brawl. You guys need to turn the page." -- Bruins head coach Claude Julien talking to reporters
"I've been here for three years and as far as I'm concerned, I've done my job here for three years," Shawn Thornton
told what he said was one of "the craziest" media scrums to ever surround him. "The fans have been nothing but great to me and to our team. I know what the expectations are, but it's not like it was last year when we had a 20-point cushion going into the last few games, so we need the two points. We're scraping for a playoff spot. As upset as [the fans] would be if they don't see bloodshed, I think they'll be more upset if we don't make the playoffs. At the end of the day, that's a bigger problem."
In the Penguins' dressing room, the players expected that would be the case for the Bruins and that they weren't going to let the call for revenge sidetrack them from their playoff aspirations.
"I mean I'm sure they're not happy with the hit, the result and that there wasn't a suspension but you know they need points bad and that's probably their focus," goalie Marc-Andre Fleury
Does Fleury expect any payback if the score gets out of hand or maybe that he would be targeted with a couple of runs on the goalie?
"I get run every game, so that's nothing new and I deal with it," he said with a laugh. "But yeah, they will come out physical for sure and we're prepared for that."
NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell will be in attendance and reportedly will speak to both Penguins GM Ray Shero
and Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli and the coaches prior to the game, but he will not address the players. There will be plenty of eyes watching to make sure the game doesn't get out of hand and that is another reason not to expect fireworks.
"Obviously they don't want this to get out of control," Julien said. "That's why they're here. They'll certainly keep a close eye on it, including the referees. I think everybody knows that."
Fleury also pointed to the fact that the Bruins didn't retaliate immediately after the incident on March 7.
"You know I think, yeah, we were ready for something there and surprised I guess," he said when asked if they expected a rumble then. "But it didn't and we'll be ready for tonight if it goes that way but like I said, both teams need the points."