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Meltdown in Beantown - “The Song Remains the Same"

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What's new? The Bruins are at it again.

The caption beneath a picture on CSNNE’s BRUINSTALK, showing Sami Salo airborne as a result of Brad Marchand’s low bridge, claims that...

Brad Marchand and the B's have been thinking too much out on the ice.”

Yes. That’s it. Exactly what comes to everyone's mind. The Bruins are thinking too much…

You'd have thought the stuff out of their mouths couldn't possibly have gotten any more ridiculous than their comments after their deflating loss to the Canucks earlier this year. But more than a month later and the Bruins are still in defense mechanism mode.

To quote a quote (M-A-K-A-V-E-L-I) of a quote (John Stewart)…

“You guys make it so easy!!!”

Lucic runs Miller – no games.

Marchand low bridges and repeatedly punches Sedin – no penalty.

Ference head shot to Halpern – no penalty, no suspension.

Lucic boarding/hit from behind on Rinaldo – one game.

Marchand low bridge against Salo – five games.

Ference hit from behind on McDonagh – three games.

Comment that the Bruins are thinking too much – priceless.

I know, I just posted another blog, but all this “Bruinstalk” is simply too hard to resist.

The Bruins are slumping and ironically, they are searching for excuses - not surprisingly, they are finding them. The conclusions they are coming to - that Sheriff Shanahan is “binging”, and the Bruins are “thinking too much” - these are the things preventing Boston from ‘protecting’ themselves, leading to Bruins losses… Those conclusions call for another infamous M-A-K-A-V-E-L-I edit - insert the patented John Stewart lip-smack-to-the-end-of-his-fingers here... and add in a Jesus face-palm for good measure.

According to “Bruins Insider” Joe Haggerty, the Bruins “ were outhit in eight of their last 11 games by the opposing teams”, something he claims hardly ever happens… Apparently the Bruins are not hitting because they don’t know the difference between a body check and boarding/a hit from behind or a low bridge. The rules are so confusing.

To read the article the link is... http://www.csnne.com...?blockID=646532

But if I remember correctly, the Bruins were primed when the Canucks walked in to their big bad house and outhit them 24-17 in the season’s most gigantic game, that “score-settling” one that started the Bruins slide. While we are at it, let's look a little closer at that claim that the Bruins beat up the Canucks in the Finals. This non-sense about Vancouver not being tough enough has annoyed me enough that I decided to go back and review the boxscores in the Finals last year. In fact the results do not reflect all the claims that Boston is so much tougher than their opponents: Game 1 Boston outhit Vancouver 31-30, Game 2 Vancouver outhit Boston 40-31, Game 3 Vancouver outhit Boston 39-31, Game 4 even at 27 hits each, Game 5 Vancouver outhit Boston 47-27, Game 6 Boston outhit Vancouver 43-38, and Game 7 Vancouver outhit Boston 47-29, Overall, if you do the math, Vancouver had a sizable advantage, out-hitting Boston 268-219. I think it might be fairer to say the Bruins out-dirty and out cheap-shot their opponents far more often than they out-hit them. When the Canucks out-play them, the Bruins resort to acting out on their frustrations and expect their dirty liberties to be permitted. Clearly they have gotten quite accustomed to that.

“Perhaps it was inevitable the Bruins were headed for a rough patch after their emotional loss to the Vancouver Canucks…Above and beyond dropping the score-settling Stanley Cup Finals rematch to the hated Canucks, the Bruins lost Brad Marchand for five games on a clipping call... While the players say they won't change their ways due to a little league attention, the suspensions certainly had their effect on the team.”

The Bruins are sticking with their protests - that they are getting undue attention from the Sheriff.

Haggerty goes on to rationalize…

“That’s not really conducive to playing their brand of hockey, and would explain why the B’s seem to be on their heels at times. Once the players begin questioning whether what they’re doing will be eyed suspiciously by the league, it takes some of the starch right out of their game. “

Milan Lucic couldn’t agree more…

“I’ve still tried getting in there forechecking and finishing my checks, but definitely you have to be aware of when the microscope is on you. You’re always aware of that,” said Lucic. “[The suspensions] might have something to do with [the struggles].

Honestly, forgive me for indulging, but this stuff is just too rich not to comment upon - I’ve seen Lucic and the Bruins on their heels before, and it had nothing to do with official discipline, and everything to do with facing faster, more skilled opponents. Lucic was invisible for most of the playoffs last year… He is unfortunately most notable when running players from behind or goaltenders half his size. When it comes to "starch" (ie dirty hockey), without it, the Bruins seem to be admitting that they don’t match up so well.

“Let’s be honest: They’ve come down pretty hard on us. Especially with the five- and the three-game suspensions . . . I mean, [the Devils' Patrik] Elias was a more blatant hit from behind [on Montreal's Mike Blunden last week] than mine or Ference was, and that was just a fine.”

“We don’t want to lose key guys for long periods of time, so there’s definitely heightened awareness about the rule changes.”

Let's be honest? Rule changes? Being penalized for running guys from behind is a “rule change?”

Forget about the fact that Salo missed more games than Marchand, or that Ryan Miller’s concussion went unpunished, as did Ference’s hit on Montreal’s Halpern that took the vital forward out of the Habs lineup in last years playoff showdown with the Bruins. The Bruins are being wronged by the rules here and they don’t want to lose key guys for long periods of time. “Socialism” (as it has been called elsewhere) and “rule changes” (what rule “changes” is he talking about?) would seem to be repressing the freedoms of the Boston Bruins.

Cue another M-A-K-A-V-E-L-I edit…

"That is, if I may say, some of the most free-range, organically grown, disingenuous, ideologically marinated, un-self-awareness I've ever seen in the wild…"

Let’s face it – when it comes to actual hockey, there are teams out there that might simply be better than the Boston Bruins, and ironically, just as tough and capable of dishing out clean body checks - something the big bad Bruins, by the way, have coming. To reverse a Mark Spector quote, “Karma is a Real Bear.” Something else the Bruins aren’t – aside from a few of their skaters - the Bruins are not the most fleet-footed team in the league, something that lends vulnerability to them getting out-hit by opponents.

But let’s get back to more from Bruins’ Insider Joe Haggerty –

“It was almost like one long sit-down with Brendan Shanahan and the player safety department broken up into three different parts, and it gave off the feeling that the league was watching the Bruins like they were a bad Rockwell song from the 1980s.”

One thing is as clear as a blue sky – in the words of the legendary rock band Led Zeppelin - “the Song Remains the Same” in Boston, and all the hot air they can muster may not be enough to keep their fantasies afloat. But there’s no need to think too much about it, when there are so many clichés to choose from.

“What colour is the sky in your world?” may be an appropriately over-killed cliché question for the ballooning Bruins.

Or, in the words of a fan responding to Haggerty’s article, from deep down a river in Egypt…

“The Bruins can Thank the Coaches of the Canucks (notice I am leaving out the Habs) and the Sabres for the microscope attention, When Coaches go public it's an automatic that the league officials will have meetings and will try to address the complaints. Ruff, Vigneault and Laviolette are the biggest whiners in the League. “

Yes. And the Bruins are too busy “thinking too much.” There may be the impression that this is how things are done in the NHL - that lobbying and patronage is what drives decisions, but it seems like more the case that that is what Shanahan is trying to get away from - to suggest that he is making decisions based on phone calls from coaches is missing the point.

As Travis Hughes of SB Nation put it “the way it comes off in this story isn't going to win the Bruins any fans outside of Boston.”

But let’s look at an angle I doubt they thought about before making these “intelligent” comments (as tempting as it is, I’ll resist quoting Claude Julien here). There is an admission implicit in these Bruins protests - that they can’t win if they are expected to play the game like every other team in the league – to be specific, within the rules of the game, which they are claiming they are having such a hard time figuring out. If the liberties they take, running around distracting opponents at the very least, and at worst running them with illegal hits, engaging in intent to injure opponents outside the bounds of legal body checks - if those cheap shots are curbed, the big bad tough guy Bruins actually appear over-rated, and fall back into the mix with the other teams in the NHL. Their sense of entitlement, having been challenged by someone with the audacity to uphold the rules of the game (Shanahan), has left them at a loss. In fact, they find themselves in a relative losing streak, searching for excuses outside themselves, for reasons that they are getting outplayed, outside the fact that they are getting outplayed. Who are the biggest whiners in the league? Expecting more patronage is kind of pathetic. Their legitimacy as Champions is less and less undisputed.

I have been under the impression that the Canucks versus Red Wings are the most entertaining matchup in hockey, but the Bruins versus their own egos, in an epic battle to outsmart themselves and sustain their entitlement, is proving to match up competitively. As a result, “The Ironing is Delicious” is more entertaining than watching the typical Bruins game.

Haggerty figures that “The Bruins lead the NHL in the unenviable category of nine games lost to suspensions this season, and an argument could be made the B’s – carrying the reputation of a team that plays on the edge, earned while beating up Vancouver in the Stanley Cup Finals -- no longer get the benefit of the doubt on 50/50 calls.”

The Bruins were getting the benefit of the doubt? That almost sounds like awareness breaking through. 50/50 calls? Apparently one man’s ‘protecting’ himself is another man’s predatory cheap shot and intent to injure. But the third party Sheriff doesn’t seem to see things the way Bruinstalk (ie doublespeak) does, and far from binging and going away, it appears Shanahan is here to stay, while the Bruins....are swimming with a fan in Egyptian waters.

The Bruins have been suspended for a whole nine games combined? Instead of complaining, Beantown should be thankful for everything they have gotten away with – as in take the Cup and run and be grateful for your good fortune - it could have been a lot more than three suspensions and nine games, justice could have started last season, and we might not be talking about the Bruins and the Cup in the same sentence. The reputation Boston has earned is the result of a lot more than cheap shots against the Vancouver Canucks in the Finals. And the

Bruins are not under a microscope - it is out there for everyone to see - they are bringing all the attention on themselves. The Bruins have been making enemies across the NHL and better get used to being hit hard and frequently – and not just by the Canucks. Teams seem to be lining up for the opportunity to return Boston favors. Last but not least, poking the Sheriff is probably not a great idea either.

Apparently fairness, in the minds of the Boston Bruins, is the equivalent of a real hard rain on their parade – and the entitled mentality they have gotten accustomed to is overdue to land, unlike the band, as hard and fast as a lead balloon.

In their minds, Boston may believe they are “getting over the suspension attention”, but that sounds like more of the same old hard-headed, wishful thinking.

Marchand exclaims that he is not going to change his game.

Julien defends low bridging - "If guys start protecting themselves that way that Marchand did, maybe guys would stop taking runs at other guys, because that's the consequences you end up paying for taking runs at guys too."

In Lucic’s own words, the Bruins seemed to be playing with the working knowledge that “the microscope is on them”, but now that Shanahan’s “binge” is over, the Bruins are looking forward to getting back to their big bad business. Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty insists “It should be back to business as usual for the Black and Gold now that they’re getting removed further from their supplemental discipline binge in January.”

Let’s add in a re-quote for good measure…

“The players say they won't change their ways due to a little league attention.”

Cue…forget it.

Boston, you poked the Canucks, you poked the Habs, you poked the Sabres, you poked the Flyers, you poked the Rangers… and you also poked the Sheriff. You seem to be suggesting that Shanahan’s discipline was a binge or a passing fad… That sounds like the confidence of patronage, but perhaps is confused with (withering) entitlement.

The Bruins can suggest that they are doing too much thinking on the ice - and that comment certainly has comedic and entertainment value, but the same certainly can’t be said about their statements off the ice – thinking too much does not characterize them at all. But setting aside all the jesting for a moment - the Bruins are a team I have always wanted to see get the monkey off their back but I think all the "starch" they are talking about is actually making them a worse hockey team. When you get down to it, the idea that they need to play Flyers Broadstreet hockey is actually a misconception and making it difficult to respect their success. I personally think they would be an even better team if they abandoned this identity of the big bad guys, got back to their own team's identity, and played more disciplined hockey as I think in that sense they are becoming their own worst enemy. The theories that suggest otherwise may actually underestimate their defensive game and their counter-punch offense.

The denial that they have actually earned their reputation doesn't seem like a wise shortcut to getting back to winning hockey - it seems like more of a sideroad - and in the climate of change in an NHL that doesn't need to sustain extra injuries as a result of flagrant hits, the Bruins would probably be a lot better off to stop underestimating their ability to win without crossing the line into "starch" and intent to injure, and stop suggesting they are unfairly being put under a microscope.

But go ahead and get back to “business as usual” - don’t think too much - keep poking every team you face, and the Sheriff – if you think that is in your interests (I disagree) - we could all probably use some more comic relief anyway… at least everyone but the next player you ‘protect’ yourself/take a run from behind at - unfortunately it’s probably not so funny to them, their team and their fans… But go ahead and keep testing Shanahan’s intelligence – I doubt he will have to “think too much” about what to do about it.

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CanucksBen - the blog, or the Bruins?

D-Money - you're right - I could have used more examples, but chose only the three guys whose suspensions they are whining about, who had already gotten away with cheap shots...

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The way the Boston Cubs (can't call them bruins right now) are playing the Nucks wont have to play them in the finals so who really cares

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