For the last few weeks, many fans and media members have been wondering if the 2019-2020 Boston Bruins lack an important quality. Were they letting borderline, and even cheap-shots, from opponents go without retaliation? In recent games, many bone crushing hits were delivered to key players, such as Daivd Pastrnak, Torey Krug and Charlie MacAvoy. Very few fights occurred afterwards.
Tuukka Rask was knocked out of the game last Tuesday in Columbus after taking a shot to the head from Emil Bemstrom. Rask has been put on injured reserve with a concussion. During the game, Besmtrom was a sought after Blue Jacket. He was hit and cross checked a few times but never had to answer for his hit with a fight.
The Bruins recently put forward Brett Ritchie on waivers, and then assigned him to Providence after no team claimed him. Head coach Bruce Cassidy did point out this was not about Boston’s lack of push back in Columbus. However, the timing does seem coincidental to say the least.
Regardless of the reasoning behind Ritchie being put on waivers, this had to serve as an internal wake up call for Boston. The Bruins needed to elevate their physical play and could not continue to have opposing tough guys target their skill skaters.
When Pittsburgh came into the Garden on Thursday, Boston had the perfect opponent to take their frustrations out on. The game was chippy, scrappy, and all kinds of nasty.
There were 5 on 5 scrums all game long. Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly’s aggressive play was easy to see. The Bruins came to play and were rewarded with a 4-1 win. However, the highlight of the night came from 47 in black.
After Torey Krug and Penguins agitator Patric Hornqvist both went to the box for roughing, neither were done exchanging pleasantries.
Mere seconds after both exited the penalty box, Krug and Hornqvist engaged again. This time, nobody was going to stop them from having it out right then and there. It was a pretty entertaining, spirited bout. Krug and Hornqvist headed to their respect locker rooms while the crowd cheered in a state of ecstasy. The roof came off the Garden.
That is what the fans wanted to see. Not just Krug, an offensive defenseman, dropping his gloves to fight. No, the crowd wanted to see fight in the Bruins players. Boston fans, especially hockey ones, love it when their players show relentless energy.
During that game, the Bruins were clearly playing for one another. No Penguin hit went unnoticed. And while the Krug/Hornqvist battle was the cherry on top, Boston made Pittsburgh uncomfortable throughout the contest.
The glory days of the 1970’s Big Bad Bruins are long gone. Not to mention, the revamped smash mouth Bruins of 2011 won the Cup almost a decade ago now. This is a different Bruins team. They go as their skill players go. If their power play is cooking, they are almost impossible to beat.
However, every hockey team needs a certain level nastiness in order to win. While squaring up for fights is not always the answer, Boston absolutely needs to hold their opponents accountable for their actions.
Story by Chad Jones
Follow Chad on Twitter @shutupchadjones