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The Abrasive Bruins

from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,

There is considerable similarity between the Boston Bruins in these playoffs and Broad Street Bullies of old in that they approach the game with virtually the same theory with respect to the officiating, whether they know it or not.

Hear us out here — don’t go jumping off the handle. This isn’t to say the Bruins are picking fights, going up into the stands or seriously injuring opponents the way the ’70s Philadelphia Flyers who earned that nickname did. That would be absurd and never tolerated in the 21st century NHL, which exists in a nanny state whereby everything must be made as safe as possible at all times for the participants and spectators. Perish the thought.

But Wednesday night’s Game 3 win over the Penguins was a classic case of how the absurdly abrasive style of the Bruins can be so tremendously effective. And it’s built on one overriding theory about officiating that they share with the Flyers: No matter how strict or determined a set of referees might be with respect to getting a grip on a game, they can only call so much.

That was exactly the same theory the Bullies used. They would punch and face wash and slash, and if you were willing, fight all night long to the point where there should have been a penalty or two on every shift. But the referee (only one then) couldn’t do that. He couldn’t call a penalty or even two on every shift. No way.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Boston Bruins, | KK Hockey | Permalink



Seems like the Vancouver media still whining about the Bruins being bullies.

Maybe the difference in how the series is being called between Pittsburgh and Boston is that Jeremy Jacobs is more important to Gary Bettman than even Crosby? The frustrating part for the Pens is that they will gladly exchange pleasantries with every other team in the league (since they aren’t Saints either), except this time they aren’t scoring on the PP to make it worth their while. In 48 games, the Pens and Bruins only had Tampa Bay in between them when it came to racking up the PIMS.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 06/07/13 at 10:32 AM ET

awould's avatar

I agree with this article. It is exactly the same strategy Anaheim used when they won the Cup. The refs can’t call everything and they have a tendency to try to even things up. It’s not a dumb strategy. It isn’t an honorable strategy either, but honor doesn’t get etched into the Cup or carry it around the ice. This strategy wouldn’t work if the refs called things consistently… if the Bruins want to break the rules all game long, then let them be on the PK all game long.

Posted by awould on 06/07/13 at 11:14 AM ET

awould's avatar

I should amend this by saying that I don’t know if the Bruins are actually doing this as I haven’t watched much of their series. I am agreeing that this strategy does exist as an actual thing, not just happenstance…. teams do go out intending to hook/hold/punch, etc. with the thought in mind that the refs won’t call most of it because it’d “look bad”.

Posted by awould on 06/07/13 at 11:16 AM ET


I think the article makes it seem far more one-sided. Anyone that has watched a Pens game will know that they love trading shots as much as the next team. They just tend to capitalize on the PP more and it usually isn’t a smart strategy to use against them. The Malkin/Jagr non-call is just an example of things being let go, but both teams are guilty. I could site other games where the Pens weren’t penalized for plenty of infractions, but then did get call in OT to help their cause, but then I’d be a sports writer from Vancouver.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 06/07/13 at 11:41 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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