the new gordie howe team hat trick
at 00:01 of the first period, upon the exact instant of the puck drop, steve ott of the dallas stars must have been thinking he could establish an alternate tone to the game in order to wipe out bad memories of the bruins manhandling his team two years ago, after he thought he might have been doing the right thing then by laying a good solid hit against greg campbell, though merely poking the bear in its den. well, everything old is new again, and ott's early fisticuffs (against greg campbell, if you like poetry and bookends) merely brought the ursine avalanche down on the hapless stars that much more quickly.
once ott and campbell were safely ensconced in their respective time-out corners, the referees must have been at least wondering whether or not they might be able to get the game back to puck-related business, and, sure enough, at exactly 00:02 of the first period, upon the exact instant of the second puck drop, they were greeted with the dropped gloves of dallas forward krys barch, and bruins star pugilist-power forward, sean thornton. (cousin of jumbo joe, to be discussed later). i have no idea what barch might have been thinking, but ott's successful bloodying of greg campbell's nose in what was otherwise a split decision, was immediately and resoundingly trumped by sean thornton's breaking of krys barch's face. (literally--barch is out for at least a week, maybe more).
it's perhaps worth pausing to reflect on non-fans' confusion about and frequent disappointment in national hockey league hockey fighting. those folks might first benefit to recall that the game was born on the un-officiated frozen ponds of central and northern canada, and successfully adjudicated for decades by the players themselves via a very workable, very schoolyard code of ethics--you cross the line every player knows is there, and you consequently meet with your opponent's toughest player somewhere out on the ice some time very soon. even the game's uglier moments, like bruins defenseman teddy green's skull fracture at the business end of a malevolently intended hockey stick back when i was a boy, was much easier to understand in light of mr. green's career to that point, spent directly upon that hypothetical line, and many times well across it. (not saying there was any justification--just an explanation).
in any case, by steve ott taking it upon himself to initiate settlement of a prior game's perceived debt, he was opening the barn door, pandora's box, and a great big can of whoop-ass at the hands of sean thornton upon the face of krys barch, and every player and fan in the building knew it. (like i said, i have NO idea what krys barch was thinking, because he surely knew what was coming, but, i guess, to his credit, maybe he was trying to back up the honor of his judgment-impaired teammate currently in the sin bin, but only he knows for sure--no player has to fight if he chooses not).
so now it's 00:04, and the puck has just dropped for the third time, and we're well on our way into the win column for the bruins, because dallas forward brian sutherby inexplicably (well, not so inexplicably, but lets just say he needs to do his research a little more thoroughly against whom he's picking his fights) is skating forward to pick a payback-intended fight with bruins rookie defenseman adam mcquaid. (i think the extra second that ticked off was the distance it took for a left winger to get forward into the vicinity of a defenseman, though the garden timekeeper's finger could have slipped before he got a chance to pin the stop button down as well). well, either way, score this one decisively for adam mcquaid and the boston bruins, sending a clear message that every one of the bruins from front to back was going to keep pounding the message into the stars (Q: what do hockey players and computers have in common? A: you have to punch information into both of them) until they finally got it. ott was out of line, and barch and sutherby paid a very heavy price for it.
the best part? once the puck dropped for the fourth time in four seconds, it took only about thirty more for milan lucic to bury the puck into the back of the dallas nets, and less than a minute more for patrice bergeron to bury the exclamation point into the same place. 2-0 bruins on the scoreboard, and 2-0 bruins in the fisticuffs, with an asterisked no-decision to start it all off.
later in that same first period, stars forward adam burish took a little bit of a cheap shot against bruins goalie tuukka rask, (two u's, two k's, two points), and wound up on the business ends of bruins defenseman andrew ference's fists, and likewise out with a broken face. (not kidding--two out of four fights left dallas players with broken bones in their faces). the ref's can blow their whistles all they want, but, seriously, the extent that this violence is allowed to remain in the game, the safer it's going to be for everyone, because you know that mr. burish will have this to think about the next time he considers snapping a puck at a goalie late after a whistle.
the final score was 6-3 bruins, with 3 out of four fight decisions and a well-deserved four game suspension for bruins forward daniel paille for a blind side shoulder check to the head of stars forward raymond sawada. the dallas daily morning news took a blindly partisan shot at the bruins organization for coach claude julien's comments reminding players that skate through the center of the ice with their heads down, (part of that schoolyard code that players don't follow anymore), which inexplicably tried to find fault with andrew ference's comments that CLEARLY agreed with the NHL and the stars organization (and the dallas daily morning news) that the hit was out of line, and the suspension justified. (the newspaper's reporter, mike heika, selectively edited ference's comments to omit that part).
anyway, it was a GREAT hockey game, and a great night in shangri-lowell.
as for jumbo joe, he's on the garden ice this afternoon, and it's yet another great day for a game.