The entire melee at the end of the third period all began with a high hit by the Thrashers Freddy Meyer on the Bruins’ Milan Lucic. The play happened right in front of Atlanta’s bench with Lucic head-manning the puck when Meyer stepped up and drilled the Bruins’ forward in the head.
Boston defenseman Andrew Ference was trailing the play and immediately jumped Meyer before everyone on the ice got into it.
“It was a high hit for sure,” Lucic said. “I was bleeding from the lip. It was the second time he’s done that. He’s hit me late. He’s hit me cheap. I mean, you can’t give a guy a free pass too many times, but I’m happy that we stuck together as a group and as a team.”
Every Bruins player on the ice got into a fight, including Nathan Horton and Marc Savard -- both of whom hardly ever drop the gloves, but in this case it was warranted. Even Savard, who recently returned to the lineup after a severe case of post-concussion syndrome, thought he needed to go with the Thrashers' Bryan Little.
"The first thought, obviously, was my head a bit," Savard said. "I don't want to get punched in the head, and if something happens, I'm done. But I battled and tried to do what [Shawn] Thornton taught me a couple of times in case it ever happened."
After the Bruins’ 4-1 victory, coach Claude Julien didn’t hold back his emotion in regards to the incident.
“That was a dirty hit,” he said. “I’ve looked at it again and it’s a cheap hit. Hopefully, it’s seen that way.”
Julien was also quick to remind everyone of the history of concussions the Bruins have dealt with over the past few seasons, and how the league keeps talking about reducing the number of hits to the head.
“You can’t blame a player for reacting to those kinds of things,” he said. “I think everybody kind of reacted and that’s what happened. I’m going to stand here and say our guys stood together for something that was, to me, a real cheap shot and uncalled for. Hopefully, the league sees it that way, too.”
While Julien praised his players, and hopes the league will review the play accordingly, Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay believed differently.
“Freddy laid a good hit,” Ramsay said. “That is what happens -- you throw a big hit and you have to have a fight. We are taking hitting out of the game. He gets a penalty for a good hit. They started all the fights and I thought we should have had a power play for the rest of the game, maybe a two-man advantage.”
During the all-out scrum, it seemed as though order was almost restored when Lucic threw another punch at Meyer, dropping him to the ice. Along with his game misconduct, Lucic also collected a match penalty, which is an automatic suspension pending review.
Lucic said after the game he’s not worried about the consequences.
“I am not going to let a guy like him who never fights do something like that to me,” Lucic said of Meyer. “So, that’s basically it.”
The two teams play again next Thursday in Atlanta.
Gloves, sticks, helmets and blood -- oh my.