Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
As if things hadn't gone sideways enough in Boston when Shawn Thornton slew-footed and concussed Brooks Orpik just days after talking about how he's viewed as being almost too honorable -- and in doing so highlighted everything that's awful about this current iteration of the Bruins.
As if they needed the help being hated.
There was no need at all for Milan Lucic to spear Danny DeKeyser in the nuts. None whatsoever. But that he did it at all shouldn't come as any kind of a surprise because this is Milan Lucic we're talking about here. You'll have to recall that he tried to spear Alexei Emelin in the same spot less than a month ago, and this too was a gutless sneak attack from behind that ended with Lucic casually skating away as though he'd done nothing wrong.
In both cases, he was not assessed a penalty because of his diabolical away-from-the-play approach to Dr. Hook-ing his opponents McCrackens, and received no supplementary discipline for the Emelin run-in.
He has now been suspended twice in his career, and fined twice. He also intentionally ran into Ryan Miller at 6,000 miles per hour and received no supplementary discipline for reasons that continue to baffle to this day. Which makes his protestations that he doesn't “make a habit” of dirty play, and spearing in particular, and “believe[s] in playing within the rules” a remarkably hot load of garbage.
Milan Lucic is a player who has no respect for his opponents. Period.
He also happens to be a very good power forward who scores a lot of goals for one of the best teams in the league, and a big guy who can play some very physical hockey. But if he was smaller, or European maybe, or didn't put up the numbers, the amount of times you'd hear “rat” in association with his name around this league would be off the charts. He is a rat, the worst kind of actor in the league because he repeatedly plays to hurt, in the cheapest ways possible, and then pulls an aww shucks attitude whenever he's called to account for it.
Which, again, isn't often. And all that leads to a lot of intellectual dishonesty.
Any sentence that starts with, “It’s just funny. I never do that, I haven’t done that,” and exactly zero words later concludes, “but unfortunately I’ve done it twice in the last little bit here,” shows an amount of cognitive dissonance that should really be studied by scientists. He also took a moment to note that he too has been on the receiving end of spears like this, saying, “It happens more times than not.”
Perhaps only Abraham Zapruder has the video evidence though, because I've never seen any of it.
But a lot of the reason for it is that people will turn away from it, and let his continued malfeasance go uncriticized. The NHL Department of Player Safety let this pattern of his getting off lightly continue unabated, when you consider that two separate and escalating spearing incidents (the DeKeyser incident being notably worse than Emelin's) about three weeks apart lost him zero games and just $5,000.
For a player making Lucic money ($6 million), that's only about one-sixth of his pay for a single day of work this season.
One can't and shouldn't expect any real accountability on the play — if you want to call it that given how far outside the bounds of hockey it fell — to come from his coaches. Maybe during the regular season, but certainly not during the playoffs, when Claude Julien has to swear up and down he never saw the spear, either live or on video, because you gotta have your guy's back. Everyone gets that, even if it does make for an eye-rolling quote. This is also true of the Bruins at large, because any time anyone even looks at them crooked they can't help complaining about it for some time (remember, Lucic was still whining about the alleged Emelin low-bridge that prompted the spear two days on). In a between-periods interview during Game 1, Marchand was already bemoaning the amount of hooking and holding the Red Wings were getting away with.
And to their credit, the actual Boston media for once didn't fall all over itself to defend Lucic from those who would call his character into question. There was a lot of calling it a “bad” thing that happened, and someone even said that this kind of play had no place in the game. They were not quite so eager the first time this happened a few weeks back, and instead dutifully nodded in assent when Lucic call Emelin a chicken, as is their wont. But save for one dumbass mouth-breather proselytizing fanboy “Well I played the game, and...” Boston.com correspondent idiot who said that this is just what happens in playoff hockey (story not linked here for reasons which should be obvious), no one took to the ramparts to dump hot oil on Lucic's detractors as they did for Shawn Thornton.
That tells you a lot, in and of itself, about the kind of puke Lucic was on this play.
But the condemnations were also lacking, whether because this is just the kind of thing they expect in the playoffs (as the pom-pom waving, bottom-feeding moron suggested), or because this is The Big Bad Bruins we're talking about, or because Lucic is always going to play like this and it won't be a big deal as long as he keeps scoring. Had this been a DeKeyser-on-Lucic spear, instead of the other way around, and there'd only been a small fine doled out by the league, the pearl-clutching about What's Become Of Our Great Sport and what a cheap shot artist yellow-bellied punk DeKeyser is would have been splashed across the front page of every newspaper in the city. Hell, they still talk about what a dirtbag Matt Cooke is every time he finishes an innocuous check, and he's had a clean rap sheet for the last three seasons.
The reason for that was intervention. Everyone universally agreed, “Matt Cooke has to change, or he has to go.” That's from the league, his team, and pretty much all observers of the game. Lucic isn't on his level — yet? — but at the same time, how many more of these incidents have to come down the pike before everyone agrees that he has to change his game?
Lucic is a good player. But for a guy who says he believes in playing “the right way” (haha) it's really weird that this keeps happening to him, and no one seems to care too much.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks' penalty killing has been pretty damn good in the first two games of their series, but one supposes that you can't go around taking five or six penalties a night and hoping Tyler Seguin doesn't pop in a few. Not when you've won both games by a single goal.
Boston Bruins: Did you know Reilly and Brendan Smith are brothers? And they're playing each other in the playoffs? This has somehow not been mentioned yet in this series. I wonder what their mom thinks!
Calgary Flames: Hoo boy. A recent poll found that 82 percent of Flames fans were not disappointed the team didn't get a Top-3 pick this year, and 71 percent think Kari Ramo (he of the .911 save percentage this season and .902 career) is the team's goalie of the future.
Chicago Blackhawks: The Blackhawks say they're “confident” about their ability to come back after losing the first two games of their series in overtime. Huh, even with Corey Crawford back there and your second-best defenseman suspended? Okay guys.
Columbus Blue Jackets: I am 100 percent shocked that there wasn't a single F-bomb in the Blue Jackets pile after Matt Calvert got them their first-ever franchise playoff win. That's the biggest surprise in all of this.
Dallas Stars: Tyler Seguin bought Mike Modano's mansion for less than $2 million. Hell of a deal. He probably left that much in spare change and bills on the floor of his Swiss apartment. Speaking of which, how much does it cost to have a mansion cleaned regularly?
Detroit Red Wings: It really is kind of surprising how little space there's been in this series, isn't it? You'd have thought things would be a lot more free-flowing given the quality of forwards on these two teams, but this is playoff hockey, one supposes.
Florida Panthers: Panthers prospect Mac Weegar is racking up the points with the Halifax Mooseheads this postseason and one imagines that roughly three-quarters were on defensive-zone passes to Jonathan Drouin that were taken 200 feet and deposited in the back of the net.
Nashville Predators, America's Favorite Hockey Team: A nice experiment while it lasted, but Mike Del Zotto should basically not be back in Nashville next season.
New Jersey Devils: What can Devils fans look forward to? Their owner, who also owns the Philadelphia 76ers, recently called the basketball team having won just 19 games this season “a huge success.” Because they tanked good and hard. Imagine if bad hockey teams were smart enough to realize this is how things should go? What a world we would get to live in.
New York Islanders: Would it actually be allowed for the Islanders to keep their first-round pick this year — instead of sending it to Buffalo as per the Thomas Vanek trade — and then move it for a first-rounder next year to cover the lack of pick in a deeper draft? It must be. Garth Snow should do that.
Ottawa Senators: Matt Kassian is almost certainly on the outs in Ottawa, and apparently the Sens are still looking for a “harder forward that can play the game hard and stick up for his teammates if necessary.” Good idea. How could that go wrong?
Pittsburgh Penguins: The speed and finish on this Brian Gibbons goal is something else.
St. Louis Blues: I don't know if you can really call not trying to kill someone when you have a five-minute power play at the end of regulation “smart” so much as “obvious.”
Winnipeg Jets: Now that the Blue Jackets won a postseason game, the Jets/Thrashers are the only franchise in the league to have never picked up a playoff W.
Play of the Weekend
Which is more impressive on this goal: Nathan MacKinnon's speed, Paul Stastny's no-look pass, or Gabriel Landeskog's finish? Boy oh boy, what a line.
Gold Star Award
Speaking of MacKinnon, I guess having seven points in your first two playoff games ever is, like, good or whatever.
Minus of the Weekend
Not a good run of things from Ilya Bryzgalov in these playoffs so far. That's probably going to just about do it for him in the NHL.
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User “ComixZone” seems like a Flames fan.
- Jiri Hudler (2 years remaining, 4M cap-hit)
- Dennis Wideman (50% cap retained, 2.625M cap-hit for next 3 years)
- 34th overall in '14
- 2nd round pick in '15
- Evander Kane
Somewhere there’s a convenient store parking lot worried sick about these missing teens.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Milan Lucic
- Alexei Emelin
- Danny DeKeyser
- Shawn Thornton