There it was, in one quote by Brad Marchand: The Canadiens are “one of those teams you want to hit.”
The Bruins certainly did that in Monday night’s 2-1 shootout loss at the Garden, taking too many penalties in the first two periods and being too undisciplined against their rivals, though in the end that wasn’t why they lost.
“We knew that going into the game,” Marchand said. “We knew that was going to happen. We knew they were going to do that. But still got the better of us tonight in that aspect of the game. We’ve got to be better in that area.”
It was perhaps most notable in the second period, when Johnny Boychuk got into it with P.K. Subban. The Canadiens’ defenseman had taken a swipe at Boychuk when he was down on one knee. Boychuk responded, then, as Subban was gesturing for the referees, took him down entirely. Boychuk was called for roughing, giving the Canadiens a five-on-three for 44 seconds, though the Bruins killed off the penalties.
As coach Claude Julien said, “There’s discipline, but they didn’t score on those. So that’s not why we lost. But I think we have to be better disciplined against them.”
The Bruins didn’t take any penalties in the third period and overtime.
“You’ve got to try not to [lose your composure],” said Milan Lucic, another Bruin who struggled with that Monday night. “Most of the time against every other team we’re pretty good at keeping our composure and just focus on what we need to do to win, so down the stretch we can’t let things like that bother us.
“We just need to focus on our game and what we need to do to have success. We’re going to play that physical type of style and sometimes you’re going to have reactions, emotional reactions going both ways, and you’ve got to expect it from here on in.”
In the first period, Lucic took issue with a hit by Alexei Emelin, continuing the feud that has developed between the players. Emelin hip-checked Lucic early in the game, a play that appeared to be clean and was not penalized. Zdeno Chara stuck up for Lucic after the play, and he was assessed a penalty for roughing Emelin.
Lucic was still heated after the game.
“Whether it’s fair, legal, or whatever you want to call it, if he wasn’t scared, he would stand up and hit me and not go after my knees,” Lucic said. “It just shows how big of a chicken he is that he needs to go down like that to take me down. It shows what kind of player he is, and on my end, you know you’ve got to keep your guard up at all times.”
That wasn’t the end of it, though. Lucic skated by Emelin in the third period and appeared to raise his stick near the player. As Lucic explained it, “Just skating by him and that’s all. People are trying to say I speared him. I did not spear him, so that’s it.”
With the Bruins and Canadiens, though, that’s never it.
“Right away with Emelin hitting Looch and Z going in, you could tell the emotions were going to be running a bit,” Marchand said. “It’s definitely tough to stay calm and composed in situations like that. But we have to do it. It’s part of our job, and just makes for a more fun game to play in.”
The Bruins are tied with St. Louis for the top spot in the NHL with those 103 points. That puts them in line potentially to win the President’s Trophy. But that’s not exactly at the top of their minds. “To be honest, the President’s Trophy would be nice, but that’s the last thing we’re thinking about,” Chris Kelly said. “[Eleven] games is a lot of games. A lot can change over those 11 games we have left. You can’t really focus on what the other teams are going to do. We can’t worry about what St. Louis is going to do or Anaheim or Pittsburgh or Chicago. We can just worry about ourselves.”
The Canadiens went with Peter Budaj in net, as opposed to Carey Price. Budaj was in net when the Bruins beat the Canadiens, 4-1, March 12 in Montreal, but he also entered with a 4-2 career record against the Bruins with a 2.64 goals against average and a .911 save percentage. He entered on a four-game losing streak, but he posted 28 saves in regulation in the win . . . Canadiens coach Michel Therrien had been wowed by the Bruins’ winning streak. “The thing that I’m impressed with is it’s at this time of year,” Therrien said before the game. “It’s something to [be] capable to put [together] a streak like that, whether in November, December, but at this time of the year, all teams are battling really hard to make it to the playoffs, and I’m really impressed about the way they play.” . . . The Bruins’ scratches were Andrej Meszaros, Corey Potter, and Jordan Caron.