Line brawl against the Dallas Stars in 2011. Where was this tenacity against the Sabres last Thursday?
In order to play at their highest level and be successful, the Big Bad Bruins must be just that, a big, tough, physical team that their opponents fear. As fans, we have been accustomed to seeing this in recent years as the Bruins are loaded with tough physical players who aren’t afraid to drop the gloves and mix it up with their opponents. However, the Buffalo Sabres came into town last week and they dominated the Bruins physically and mentally and I believe they instilled some fear in the Bruins.
6 foot 280 pound John Scott pummeled the much small Shawn Thornton
I can’t remember the last time a regular season game has left such a sour taste in my mouth. After last week’s 7-4 loss to Buffalo on our home ice after leading 3-1, I couldn’t help but think about the long term effects this may have on the team. Not only did we squander a two goal lead to a division rival, but our go to tough guy, Shawn Thornton, had to leave the game after suffering a concussion from Sabres defensive lineman, I mean defenseman, John Scott. I commend Thornton for standing up to the 6 foot 8, near 280 pound Scott, but this may have been one of the few times I would have been okay with Thornton keeping his gloves on. Now the Bruins are without Thornton for 7-10 days as he has been diagnosed with a concussion.
Marc Savard being carted off the ice after suffering a concussion against the Penguins in 2010
Thornton may still be out when we visit the Sabres on February 10 and this injury may affect him for the rest of the season. Once Thornton returns to the ice, his normal physical game may be turned down a notch as he will have to be careful while recovering from a concussion. It may not be smart for him to fight as much as he usually does the rest of this season. We have all seen first-hand the lingering problems that concussions cause as they have haunted Bruins players such as Patrice Bergeron, Marc Savard, and Nathan Horton in recent years. The fact that Thornton may lose an edge to his game because of this Sabres game is unnerving. I had a feeling Scott and Thornton would “doe si doe” after Scott had this to say following the Bruins-Blackhawks game in 2011:
“If I’m in the lineup [next time Thornton faces the Blackhawks], he’s more than welcome to come chirp at me. I’ll kick the [expletive] out of him,” enforcer John Scott said on Thursday, according to ChicagoBreakingSports.com.
We can all safely say that Scott backed up what he said and now Thornton’s game may not be the same for some time. While Thornton isn’t a top line player with 25 goal scoring capability, he is an influential player in the Bruins lineup who showed just how much he means to this team during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoff run. He brings a unique presence to the locker room and the ice that many teams don’t possess. I admire that he stood up to Scott that night but I wish someone else stood up and fought that night as well.
Milan Lucic used to square off a lot more than he does today. Why didn’t he fight on January 31st against the Sabres?
Typically, if one of your teammates gets their ass beat in a fight, the very next play, or shortly thereafter, someone responds and drops the gloves with an opposing player. Not only does this happen on the ice, but it happens on the streets, the playgrounds, school hallways, the bar, you name it. When it didn’t happen during the game last week, it concerned me. Thornton has stood up for his teammates over the past few years no matter who he had to drop the gloves with so why didn’t someone return the favor after he went down? I’m not saying that someone like Danny Paille should have dropped the gloves with Scott because he would get his ass beat as well but somebody like Lucic, Boychuck, Ference, MacDermid, Campbell, hell, even Chara should have responded and fought someone wearing blue and yellow. Not only do you respond to show that you have your teammate’s back, but you also respond to gain some momentum back and show the Sabres you aren’t scared of them.
It’s amazing to me that there was only one fight during the Sabres game, especially when it occurred less than three minutes in and both teams are loaded with players that can fight. Gregory Campbell and Steve Ott have some bad history together ever since Ott took a run at Campbell in 2009 when Campbell was on the Florida Panthers. While playing for the Bruins in 2011, Campbell responded and fought Ott in the memorable February 3rd game against the Dallas Stars which featured three different fights in the first four seconds of the game. My question is, why didn’t this team respond and fight after Thornton got knocked out of the game by Scott? Is this team not as tough as year’s past?
The way the game ended left a sour taste in my mouth because the Bruins got pushed around at all levels. The Sabres and coach Lindy Ruff dominated the physical and mental aspects of the game as they came in, pushed us around, outscored us, then had the audacity to call a timeout with 14 seconds left to play to rub salt in the wound. They were laughing at us and our fans as we heckled Ryan Miller for letting in four goals while Tuukka gave up six, not including the empty netter. The Big Bad Bruins typically talk the talk and walk the walk but for whatever reason, they didn’t walk the walk on January 31st. The Bruins played a solid offensive game but they were soft on defense as they continued to let the Sabres skate around the ice without paying a price. If they want to bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston this season, they have to get back to being the Big Bad Bruins that teams fear playing.
We will all be looking forward to February 10 as the Bruins visit Buffalo in what should be a wild atmosphere and the Bruins chance to respond on the Sabres home ice. However, I think they should have already responded during the first meeting on January 31st. What do you think?
You can follow Kevin Dennis on Twitter @TheRealDennyD