Pittsburgh Penguins forward James Neal will have his hearing Monday with the department of player safety for his kneeing incident to the head of Bruins forward Brad Marchand during Boston’s 3-2 win Saturday at TD Garden.
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf will have a hearing Tuesday for his hit on Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller during Boston’s 5-2 win Sunday at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Lastly, Bruins forward Shawn Thornton is currently suspended while he awaits his hearing for his incident with Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik during Saturday’s game. The date for Thornton's hearing hasn't been announced, but it's likely to be later in the week.
MONTEREY, Calif. -- The Bruins are often cited as the NHL’s ideal mix of skill and toughness. Boston GM Peter Chiarelli has built a team that typically doesn’t depend on one guy to do its policing. With the gradual elimination of the traditional enforcer, Boston’s roster is elevated as the example of where the league should be evolving, with a premium on guys who can play as well as fight, if needed.
And the Penguins -- not many franchises have been more public about concussion prevention than Pittsburgh since Sidney Crosby was sidelined with his first one in the 2011 Winter Classic. GM Ray Shero has taken the public stance that fighting needs to be critically examined by those running the league, even if that opinion may not be popular among the players.
Yet, it was these two teams that brought out hockey’s ugliest side on Saturday. From Shawn Thornton driving Brooks Orpik’s head into the ice in a nauseating scene to James Neal’s “accidental” knee to Brad Marchand -- two of the Eastern Conference’s highest profile teams set hockey back over the weekend. Again. It’s just the latest example of how too often when players discuss things like a code or respect for one other, it’s meaningless talk completely abandoned the moment a teammate is perceived as slighted in any way, real or imagined.
Teams that should be celebrated for their high-end skill dragged themselves down to a level of entertainment that many casual sports fans in the United States have little to no stomach to watch, relegating hockey to punchline status.
Incidents like these, when they occur so close to a gathering like the GM meetings or Board of Governor meetings, can often spark change, which brings us to our first “Next Question” of the week:
Are enough owners fed up with the dangerous product on the ice to speak out at the Board of Governors meetings today and tomorrow?
Unlike last time this group met in Pebble Beach, where a drastic league realignment was proposed, this meeting is supposed to be primarily informational: Approval of the huge Canadian television deal. A projection of the next salary cap. Reports from Brendan Shanahan on league discipline and another on the recent concussion lawsuit. And perhaps those last two segments are where the one-sided reporting can become a legitimate debate. Considering the mix of legal action and on-ice ugliness, the tone of the gathering of NHL owners this week in Monterey could be completely different from what was planned a few weeks ago. At least, let’s hope.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
Coach Claude Julien told reporters in Toronto that Hamilton would return home Monday for medical evaluation and probably would miss at least a week.
Fellow defensemen Adam McQuaid and Johnny Boychuk already were out, but Julien said he was "more optimistic than pessimistic" that Boychuk could return Tuesday at Calgary. The Bruins' trip through Canada also includes stops in Edmonton (Thursday) and Vancouver (Saturday).
Late in the game, Kevan Miller, who was called up this weekend to help on the blue line, left a little woozy after being crunched into the boards by Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf, but Julien said Miller should be OK.
"It's very minor and shouldn't impact him playing for us next game but it was a close call -- head first into the boards," Julien said.
Miller scored his first NHL goal on a wrist shot from the blue line at 15:58 of the second period.
BOSTON -- Bruins forward Chris Kelly suffered a fractured right fibula during the second period of Saturday's 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden and will miss four to six weeks, the team confirmed Sunday afternoon.
Kelly has also been placed on long-term injury reserve.
Despite the injury, Kelly still played six shifts in the third period and logged 4:42 of ice time Saturday night.
Kelly, who has played well this season as the team's third-line center, missed 14 games late last season (March 12 to April 6) with a broken left tibia. Overall, he has three goals and four assists for seven points, while posting a minus-1 rating in 29 games.
The Bruins also announced defenseman Adam McQuaid (lower body) has been placed on injury reserve.
Boston also made a pair of transactions, recalling forward Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser from Providence of the AHL. Fraser has 16 goals and five assists for 21 points in 23 games for the P-Bruins. Spooner has five goals and 19 assists for 24 points in 21 games for Providence.
FAMILIAR FOE: The Bruins and Maple Leafs face off for the second of four meetings this season. Boston won the first game 3-1 on Nov. 9 at TD Garden. The Bruins are 6-5-0 on the road this season, while the Maple Leafs own a 10-5-0 record at ACC. Boston is 4-1-0 in its last five regular-season games and 10-1-1 in the last 12 against Toronto. These teams staged an epic first-round series last season in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Bruins won the series in seven games. Tonight will be the Maple Leafs’ first Sunday home game since Feb. 23, 2003.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE LATELY: The Bruins are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and 11-3-2 in the last 16. Boston pulled off a dramatic 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night at TD Garden. The Bruins’ Zdeno Chara scored with 13 seconds remaining in regulation en route to victory. Toronto is 3-3-2 in its last eight games. The Maple Leafs’ James van Riemsdyk scored a regulation goal, added two assists and netted the deciding goal in the shootout to help Toronto to a 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night at Canadian Tire Centre.
MASKED MEN: Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask made 28 saves in Saturday’s 3-2 win over the Penguins to improve his record to 15-7-2 with a 1.91 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage. He’s 5-2-1 in his last eight starts and 9-3-2 in his last 14. If Bruins coach Claude Julien decides to start Rask against the Maple Leafs, it will be the third time this season he’s played back-to-back games. Rask is 9-1-0 against the Maple Leafs with a 1.42 GAA and a .951 SP in 12 career games. If Chad Johnson gets the start for the Bruins, he’s 4-1-0 with a 1.97 GAA and a .918 SP in five starts this season. He’s won his last three starts. Since the Maple Leafs’ James Reimer played Saturday night (47 saves on 50 shots) against the Senators, Toronto will start Jonathan Bernier against the Bruins. Bernier is 9-7-2 with one shutout in 19 games this season. He has a 2.40 GAA and a .931 SP. He’s 0-1-0 against the Bruins in his career.
KEY INJURIES: Bruins forwards Loui Eriksson (concussion) and Chris Kelly (broken ankle) were both injured Saturday night and did not travel with the team to Toronto. Also, the Bruins have been without defensemen Adam McQuaid (lower body) and Johnny Boychuk (back), but both went on the trip. McQuaid is considered day-to-day. Boychuk, who was taken off the ice on a stretcher last Thursday in Montreal after what now has been diagnosed as a back spasm, was seen Saturday night on press level limping and slightly hunched over.
REINFORCEMENTS: Because of the barrage of injuries, the Bruins recalled forwards Matt Fraser and Ryan Spooner from Providence of the AHL and both will be available to play against the Maple Leafs. Fraser, who arrived in Boston as part of the Tyler Seguin trade last July, recorded a hat trick for the P-Bruins on Friday night against Manchester and added another goal on Saturday at Worcester. He has 13 games of NHL experience with the Dallas Stars. Spooner was called up earlier this season and played two games and posted one assist.
SUSPENDED: The Bruins’ Shawn Thornton received a match penalty and is suspended until his disciplinary hearing with the league for his actions against the Penguins’ Brooks Orpik on Saturday night. Thornton will likely receive a lengthy suspension and did not travel with the team to Toronto.
CARON’S BACK: Bruins forward Jordan Caron has been limited to 11 games this season as a healthy scratch. Due to Thornton’s suspension, it’s likely Caron will return to the lineup against the Maple Leafs. If he does play, it will be his 100th NHL game. He has one goal this season and his last game was Nov. 27 at Detroit.
When asked if he had an opinion on being kneed in the head by the Penguins' James Neal at 11:06 of the first period, all Marchand said was: "No."
Marchand was asked if he saw the replay.
Did he think it was intentional?
"I don't know, it happened quick."
Marchand remained on the ice after the knee to the head, was tended to by a trainer, exited the ice and went to the room. He was back on the bench shortly.
When ask if he was injured on the play, he said: "I can't comment on this, guys; I know you guys were already told, I can't comment. You know I want to, but I can't."
Neal had his take on the situation.
"I was skating by him, I haven't like seen the replay or anything, so I mean I hit him in the head with my leg or my foot or my knee or shin area, I don't know," Neal said. "But I mean he's already going down and I guess I need to try to avoid him, but I have to look at it again. I haven't gotten a chance to look at it."
Neal was pressed further.
"I mean, what do you want me to say? That I was trying to hit him? No. I'm going by him; I don't get out of the way, like I said. I need to be more careful and I guess get my knee out of the way, but I'm not trying to hit him in the head or injure him or anything like that."
He will almost certainly be suspended for his terrifying actions against the Penguins' Brooks Orpik.
During a stoppage in play, Thornton skated nearly the length of the ice, jumped Orpik, slew-footed him to the ice and punched him twice in the head at 11:06 of the first period. Thornton was given a match penalty.
Orpik was taken off the ice on a stretcher and transported to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a concussion. He returned to TD Garden and was cleared to travel with the team back to Pittsburgh.
After the game, Thornton was informed of his disciplinary hearing with the league, so he did not travel to Toronto with the team. He understands he will likely be suspended and fined for the incident.
In the Bruins' locker room after the dramatic come-from-behind victory, Thornton was distraught over his actions. He was soft-spoken and nearly broke down, realizing his on-ice behavior in this matter was uncalled for.
"Obviously, I made a mistake. I'm aware of it. I've been told they're having a hearing and it's hard for me to say much more than that. It was not my intention. I feel awful. I felt sick all game," Thornton said.
With the exception of the Shawn Thornton incident -- he jumped the Penguins' Brooks Orpik, throwing him to the ice and punching him in the head twice before the Pittsburgh defenseman was taken off on a stretcher and transported to a hospital -- it was a good, physical and intense game between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.
"Yeah, it was very hard for me. Since the start of the game it was very physical," Chara said. "There was a lot of emotions involved and it was up-and-down hockey, a lot of scoring chances, very playoff kind of hockey. We were behind the whole game. We were just fighting for that tying goal and eventually we got it and then we carried that momentum into basically the end of the game and we were able to score a goal with very little time left in the game so it was a good game to win for us."
With the win, Boston extended its home point streak to 12 games (10-0-2) and also snapped Pittsburgh's five-game winning streak.
After the game, Bruins coach Claude Julien said he would rather focus on the team's win than speak about the incidents in the first period involving Thornton and Orpik.
"Well, it was a good win for us. We haven't felt real good about our game because of the ups and downs and tonight it was kind of, like I said, a real weird game," Julien said. "It was a grinding type of game. Didn't seem like a ton of stuff was happening and for us to kind of grind it out and get those two late goals and get the win in regulation, I think we have to build on that.
"The rest we have to park and we have a big game tomorrow again in Toronto and we have to somehow push this aside and focus on tomorrow's game. And that's why we need to move on here and let the people that are in charge deal with this."
Bruins forward Reilly Smith also scored for the Bruins and played one of his best games of the season. He added an assist on Chara's game-winning goal.
"It was great to see it hit the back of the net," Smith said. "We were battling for probably the whole third period. It's hard to get chances and it seemed like until the last minute we finally got one in. To see [Krejci's goal] and then have Chara get that last one is huge."
Smith has three goals and three assists for six points in his last eight games.
In case you're wondering how physical this game was, there were 67 hits total between the teams. Boston had 31 and Pittsburgh had 36.
Eriksson exited the game only seconds after the opening faceoff after he was on the receiving end of a major check by Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik. Eriksson had trouble getting to his feet, but made it to the bench before he was taken to the locker room. There was no penalty on the play.
It was announced a few minutes after Eriksson left the ice that he would not return.
Boston's Shawn Thornton is facing a hearing for jumping Orpik later in the first period. Orpik left the game on a stretcher and was taken to a nearby hospital but was released later Saturday night and cleared to travel with the Penguins.
Thornton received a match penalty.
Coach Claude Julien also announced after the game that forward Chris Kelly suffered a lower-body injury due to a slash and will not travel to Toronto with the team.
As a result of Eriksson, Kelly and Thornton out of the lineup until at least Sunday against the Maple Leafs, the Bruins will need to call up players from Providence.
BOSTON -- The third and final regular-season meeting between the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins was an all-out battle that featured both highs and lows.
It all started from the opening faceoff and continued for 60 minutes. It finished with Zdeno Chara scoring with 13 seconds remaining in regulation to give Boston a 3-2 win Saturday night at TD Garden.
Boston trailed 2-1 late in the third period until David Krejci scored to tie it with 1:29 remaining.
Unfortunately, the game was marred by an ugly incident when the Bruins' Shawn Thornton grabbed the Penguins' Brooks Orpik during a stoppage in play, threw him to the ice and punched him twice. Orpik was taken off the ice on a stretcher and brought to Massachusetts General Hospital. The Penguins announced after the second period that Orpik was alert and conscious. Thornton was given a match penalty.
After that encounter, the physical play continued in an intense, back-and-forth game.
Pittsburgh caught a break on its first goal when Chris Kunitz's shot from the bottom of the left faceoff circle ricocheted off Chara and slipped past goaltender Tuukka Rask for a power-play goal to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 6:33 of the first period.
Boston tied it when Reilly Smith's slap shot from the left faceoff circle beat Marc-Andre Fleury at 10:13 of the first period. It was Smith's sixth goal of the season. Pittsburgh responded with another power-play goal when James Neal, who had stepped out of the penalty box only a few seconds earlier, gained control of the puck and beat Rask for a 2-1 lead at 13:13 of the first period.
After a scoreless second period, the Bruins still trailed 2-1 early in the third period when Smith had a wide-open net during a power play, but he shot it high and wide.
With 1:45 remaining in regulation and a faceoff in the Pittsburgh zone, Rask was pulled for the extra attacker. It worked as Krejci scored with 1:29 remaining to tie it at 2-2.
Chara netted the game-winning goal with a wrist shot from the high slot at 19:47.
The Bruins took two of the three regular-season games, and if these teams face off again, it will be during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Injured: The Bruins' Loui Eriksson exited the game only seconds after the opening faceoff after he was on the receiving end of a major check by Orpik. Eriksson had trouble getting to his feet, but made it to the bench before he was taken to the room. There was no penalty on the play. It was announced a few minutes later that he would not return. Eriksson missed five games earlier this season when he was on the receiving end of a late hit by the Buffalo Sabres' John Scott on Oct. 23. Scott was suspended seven games for the incident.
Drop 'em: After a major collision against the boards, the Bruins' Milan Lucic and the Penguins' Deryk Engelland dropped the gloves at 7:19 of the first period. The two exchanged punches in a spirited bout. It was only Lucic's second fighting major of the season.
D pairings: With Adam McQuaid (lower body) and Johnny Boychuk (back) out of the lineup, rookie defenseman Kevan Miller was in the lineup and paired with Torey Krug. The other two pairings to start the game were Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton and Dennis Seidenberg-Matt Bartkowski.
Up next: The Bruins head out on a four-game road trip, beginning Sunday in Toronto before switching to Western Canada to face the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks. It will be the first trip to Vancouver's Rogers Arena for the Bruins since lifting the Stanley Cup there on June 15, 2011.
Orpik was pulled to the ice and punched twice in the head by the Boston Bruins' Shawn Thornton in a crowd of players and officials during a stoppage in play at 11:06 of the first period of the Bruins' 3-2 win at TD Garden.
Thornton, dressed in a suit and speaking quietly in front of his locker after the game, said he was sorry for what happened.
"It's hard for me to talk about right now. I can't say I'm sorry enough. I'm sure I'll be criticized, but it's true," he said. "I felt awful. It wasn't my intention. I know Brooksie. I've gotten to know him the last seven years here. I skated with him during the lockout. I texted him a couple of times. It's not what I wanted to see or anyone to see."
Thornton was handed a match penalty and has been told he faces a disciplinary hearing.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma believes Orpik could be concussed.
"I think he was out on the ice for a period of time, so I think that means he's got a concussion, for sure," he said.
This rematch of last season's Eastern Conference finals -- which the Bruins swept in four games -- was a physical game from the opening puck drop. On the first shift of the game, Orpik knocked the Bruins' Loui Eriksson from the game with a major check.
I think we've been playing pretty good hockey, especially in November. Lately, we had a couple of games we would have liked to play better. But I liked seeing after the Detroit game that we responded pretty well. Hopefully we can continue to respond well after a bad game. I'd like to see our consistency be something we work on. We've been up and down a little bit too much. We'll have a good first period and then a bad second and then a good third. I think we have to make sure to be more consistent throughout games.
My line with Marchy [Brad Marchand] and Loui [Eriksson] was improving as the month of November went along. I think we can always be better. Especially when you don't get the wins that you want as a team, it's important for our line to contribute in any way we can. I think we've been doing that on both sides of the rink and we need to find more ways to keep improving and be better as the year goes along.
As you know, the Canadiens are our rival. It's huge every time we play them. It's always tough to play in their building. There is so much history between the teams that it's special to be a part of it. It's always a fun game. This year was a little different as we had to wait until December to play them. Usually we play them a lot earlier than that, but we didn't in part because now we have the new conferences and divisions.
What wasn't fun was seeing Johnny Boychuk go down like he did on Thursday in Montreal. That is tough to see. It's the last thing you want to see for anyone, but when it's one of your friends or your teammate, it's hard. It took the momentum away from us right away and put a dent in the start of our game. The good news is that he seems to be doing better and hopefully he can be back as soon as possible.
Growing up a Nordiques fan, I always would pretend when I was a kid that I was Peter Forsberg or Joe Sakic. They were great players in Quebec. Joe Sakic was the captain. So he was one of the guys I was always looking up to. He was humble and nice and contributed in the community. They were definitely two of the guys I liked to try to be like.
We have a lot of young guys on our team this season, and a few of them got to experience this rivalry for the first time this past week. Let's talk a little about some of the rookies and younger guys on the team. All of them are doing well, to be honest with you. Reilly [Smith] has stood out to me as someone who has raw talent. He's developing really well into a great player which is great to see for us. With Torey [Krug], the way that he is composed and poised on the ice and making plays really doesn't look like a rookie. Bart [Matt Bartkowski] is pretty fast and pretty slick. I think it's great to have these guys jumping in and being good right away.
So that's some thoughts on the younger guys on the ice, but if you asked me who stands out off the ice it's got to be Bart. He's the personality, for sure. He's a guy who is not afraid to talk. He's pretty funny also. He's vocal and lightens up the mood once in a while. He hasn't been very shy to talk, that's for sure.
After our Penguins game, we're headed out on the road for the next week. On the plane, I sit next to Daniel Paille and we watch movies. When there are long trips like that we try to go through a couple of movies or TV shows. It's a good way to spend the time. Oddly, we don't really have any video game players on this team. Some guys used to play. Johnny Boychuk plays once in a while on his iPad and [David] Krejci used to but now he doesn't anymore. Gregory Campbell or Johnny Boychuk are our guys that take care of the music. I like their tastes in music. Soupy [Campbell] is more hip-hop and Johnny is a little more dance and techno.
Back when I first started playing, you used to have to have a roommate on the road. Who that was changed a lot but I had Chuck Kobasew and Matt Hunwick and Brad Boyes. So I had a few but now I'm on my own. It's kind of nice not sharing a room with someone anymore.
We'll have a lot of dinners together when we're on the road. Every team needs an organizer for things like that. For us, it's Dan Paille. He's an organized guy who likes things set up in advance. He always takes care of making reservations. When the check comes sometimes we split it and sometimes we play credit card roulette where everyone throws their card in and one is selected. Little factoid about our credit card game: If your card gets selected once you may think you're off the hook to pay for future dinners but not true, your card still goes back in. You just have to cross your fingers the next time.
We're a pretty close group. I don't have one guy I always go to lunch with or anything. I do like going with [Dennis] Seidenberg. We're kind of on the same schedule. So we'll go together. But it's pretty much anyone, to be honest with you.
We bring a horseshoe that is hanging in our dressing room with us on the road. It's our lucky charm. We try to bring some luck with us. Yes, we need to work hard and all that but luck is also something we need on our side.
The holidays are upon us. We usually do a Secret Santa on the team. We haven't talked about it yet for this year. I don't know if we will or not because Andrew Ference was our organizer for that. We'll have to talk about that now that Ference isn't on the team anymore. Each year always seemed to have a little different spin on it. Sometimes it would be a gag gift, other times nice gifts. It was never really the same. One year we did bad sweaters.
I think guys liked pulling Marchy's name to be his Secret Santa because he's pretty funny and a few guys would like to get him back. I would like to say, though, that I would not like to get Marchy because I like him. You know who I would like to have as my Secret Santa is Loui. He seems like a pretty generous guy.
What do I want for Christmas is a good question. I don't want anything, to be honest with you. My family is coming down. So I'm just happy about that. What do I want for the team for Christmas? That is easier to answer as I want us to keep improving. Hopefully by the end of the month we stay up in the standings, around that first spot. We'd like to stay there and that's our goal. We want to be at our best consistently.