By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Bruins Senior Staff Writer
Petulance has its price; and for the playoff bound Boston Bruins, that likely means a first round death sentence in round one of the playoffs against the Presidents’ Trophy winning – not to mention odds-on favorite to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup come June – Washington Capitals, due to the immature and selfish acts of winger Brad Marchand.
Whether the Bruins would have won either of their two last games of the regular season against the Ottawa Senators or the Caps, if Marchand was not suspended for trying to perform gender reversing surgery on Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jake Dotchin with his stick in front of the Bolts net last Tuesday night, is anyone’s guess. However, one can’t help but think he may have been the difference in last Thursday night’s 2-1 shootout loss against the Sens, that – if they were able to secure the much-needed second point in the overtime tilt – would still have given them two chances to claim third place in the Atlantic Division, with a Maple Leafs loss or tie against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday night in Toronto.
Now, all they can do is hope that the Blue Jackets win in regulation to save them from likely playing the role of the bug to the Caps windshield, as the fine-tuned, Alex Ovechkin led machine rolls past them in a rout.
Let’s face it, everything – including the eye test – tells you that the Bruins would have no hope against the much-hyped, overdue Washington club. Brandon Holtby owns the B’s – in 13 career starts against the Bruins, he is 11-2 with a 1.80 goals-against average, and a .945 save percentage – and Tuukka Rask has exactly one win in 16 starts against the Caps, with a god-awful .889 save percentage.
Simply put, it would take the biggest choke job ever by Ovechkin and his boys – who in the past have shown a tendency to have difficulty swallowing in the playoff – for the Bruins to see the second round of hockey’s second season.
And while it is not like the B’s have had an easy time with the Sens – they have lost all four games they have played against them this season – and their trap-happy head coach Guy Boucher, at least they would enter the series thinking that they at least had a fighting chance.
In the past two seasons, Marchand has made tremendous strides in his game; and just as little as three weeks ago, was in the conversation for those who would garner votes for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s MVP. Nevertheless, he squashed that talk and surrendered the opportunity to reach the 40 goal mark for the first time in his career, to cheaply respond to a run of the mill cross check to the back last Tuesday night.
Marchand’s response when being asked about what happened when he was made available to the media last Thursday prior to the pivotal game against the Sens that he would watch from the press box, was petty as well. He defiantly said that he cares only about what his family and teammates think of him; which if that was the truth, he would eliminate the over the line plays he too frequently makes.
The Bruins march to the playoffs for the first time in three years, should have been a triumphant one. Interim head coach Bruce Cassidy took a team that was teetering at the edge of the abyss, and turned them into a team that would have at least a puncher’s chance if they remained within the division during the first round of the playoffs. Marchand’s play was a major part of that resurrection.
Now, mainly due to his suspension, all the Bruins can is hope and pray that Blue Jackets give them the help they need in order to avoid a likely first round drubbing at the talented hands of the Caps.