In a season of twists and turns, if the Bruins end up going much deeper into the playoffs than most people expect the sages will point to this game as the beginning of it all. For the first time this season they played like last year's team; they played hard and tough, overwhelming the Flyers. With each goal they seemed to hunger for more, which was once the mark of this team.
But the game itself had some twists and turns. They story of this game starts two games before, on March 7th in Pittsburgh. A goon by the name of Matt Cooke blindsides the Bruin's Mark Savard with an intentional hit to the head with his shoulder. Savard falls to the ice like a rag doll and is taken off on a backbaord. It turns out that he has a level 2 concussion and will be out indefinitely. Patrice Bergeron, who was himself the victim of a cheap shot to the head that lost him an entire season, stands there next to Sydney Crosby and they both shake their heads. Begeron has become a voice of reason among players to stop dangerous hits to the head.
The hit happened away from the play and no replay is shown in the arena. Cooke receives no penalty on the play, but never returns to the ice. At that moment the Bruins were down a goal late in the game and they want to win it. There is no retaliation and the Bruins end up losing. Most people, the players included, expect a suspension for Cooke. In the days that follow fans are outraged at their lack of retaliation. Even the GM expresses his disappointment. Media attention focuses on the NHL meeting about stopping this exact type of hit. To literally add insult to injury Cooke is not suspended after all. This announcement is made the day the Bruins play the Flyers--a team known for its rough play.
The game starts with the Bruins playing hard and sharp. They get a one goal lead. Mark Stuart steps up and has a good fight against Daniel Carcillo. Only 40 seconds into the second period, it happens. Dennis Seidenberg, the newest Bruin, finishes a hit smack on the numbers on the back of a Philly player, sending him violently head first into the boards. His head bounces off the glass and he falls to the ice. Fortunately his helmet took the blow, rather than his face, and the glass is more forgiving than the boards. But had he laid there hurt Seidenberg would have been looking at a suspension for sure. I was shocked. But he got up and Seidenberg only got 2 minutes for boarding. On the penalty kill the B's took to the ice completely deflated. I wonder if they were thinking what I was thinking: "Who is this Seidenberg guy? Is he the kind of player who takes cheap shots to the head?" It took the Flyers all of 4 seconds to score.
For the first few shifts after that the Bruins looked like deer in headlights. But then something happened. Man, I would have loved to have been a fly on the glass near the bench. Somebody said something. I don't know if it was Bergeron, Siedenberg, or a coach. But somebody must have said something, because after that the Bruins were an unstoppable force. Stuart won another fight. Rask made some huge Thomas-like saves, the kid Marchand played with fire in his eyes, and they scored 4 unanswered goals.
The Bruins are finally Big, Bad and Back. At least for now.