So we meet again -- Bruins vs. Matt Cooke preview
Tonight marks the first meeting between the Bruins and Penguins since the Marc Savard injury on March 7. Savard is still doing poorly according to Claude Julien, and some people are starting to compare his situation to that of Patrice Bergeron after his devastating hit in 2007.
You will be hard-pressed to find a Bruins fan that does not want some sort of rather extreme measure of revenge taken on Matt Cooke and even some other members of the Penguins. Just earlier this afternoon, a friend of mine said to me, "They should gun for Crosby and Malkin all game. Leg check and take out their knees. I won't be happy unless one of them needs knee surgery."
While that would be a bit much, if that sort of scenario played out with Matt Cooke I think the only fan base that would be upset is Pittsburgh (and let's be honest -- they get pissy if someone looks at Crosby the wrong way). After the complete and utter cowardice and indifference shown by the entire Bruins team after the hit occurred and similar reaction from Colin Campbell, B's fans are well within their rights to ask for blood tonight. But the question isn't how far the Bruins will go in their retalition. I question whether the Bruins will retaliate at all.
And this isn't blind speculation on my part. Earlier today, resident Bruins "enforcer" Shawn Thornton was quoted by CSN New England's Joe Haggerty saying, "There isnt going to be any [payback], You can't. At end of day its a hockey game, we're couple of points up in race for playoffs". That comes on the heels of a report by The Boston Herald yesterday that quoted Thornton saying, "I don’t want to sound soft, but listen, we all want to take care of things but at this point in the season, we’re trying to make the playoffs, we’re one point up and it’s probably not going to happen the way everyone in Boston wants it to. Unfortunately.”
Claude Julien has been quoted numerous times after the incident and leading up to tonight's game saying that the Bruins are more concerned with winning and making the playoffs than they are retaliating and settling scores. A closer look at the Bruins probable lineup for tonight reveals it might not matter anyways. Listed below are the likely lines for the Bruins tonight.
Blake Wheeler-David Krejci-Michael Ryder
Marco Sturm-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi
Milan Lucic-Vladimir Sobotka-Miroslav Satan
Dan Paille/Brad Marchand-Steve Begin-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg
Dennis Wideman-Mark Stuart
Matt Hunwick/Andrew Ference-Johnny Boychuk
We've seen the comments from Thornton. Milan Lucic has picked up his all-around game over the last week or two, but his last fight was a disaster against Colton Orr where he essentially quit. He's probably the most likely candidate for retaliation, but he likely won't target other members of the Penguins. Mark Stuart, normally not a volume fighter, has dropped the gloves three times in the last four games and has played with a noticeable mean streak since the incident and subsequent outcry regarding the Bruins' toughness.
Past those three, I wouldn't expect anything from any other member of the Bruins. Chara can't fight due to a dislocated finger. Marchand is a little pest, but his minutes and lack of NHL experience will limit him. Begin has shown nothing this year that indicates any desire to get physical with anyone. The rest of the team are soft scorers that do not mix it up or fight.
There is a large possibility that tonight's game fails to live up to half of the expectations of Bruins and NHL fans around the country. But if the score gets out of hand either way in the first 30-40 minutes, keep your eyes on the game. After all, not all Bruins are taking the politically correct road in the media.
"Tonight If there's a chance to finish that guy. We're not going to hesitate. We're going to do it." -- David Krejci