If only for the fact that he was downright reckless in leaving his feet to level Boston Bruins defenseman Joe Corvo on Saturday, Ottawa Senators forward Kyle Turris should have been reprimanded to some extent.
Anything more than a one-game suspension would have been ludicrous given Turris’ clean disciplinary record and a lack of injury to Corvo. But Brendan Shanahan should at least have issued a fine to tangibly warn against such recklessness in the future.
No such thing happened. Too bad.
With the Bruins now set to conclude a home-and-home series with their biggest divisional threat at TD Garden Tuesday night, Corvo need not forgive and forget altogether. But in contrast to Turris in the act of that hit in the third period of Saturday’s bout, he should demonstrate a little prudence in how he projects his frustration.
Reports leading up to Tuesday’s matchup plainly indicate that Corvo will be looking to settle his score by way of a brawl. But he need not look any further than the previous Bruins-Senators tilt to realize how ill-advised that would be.
Mere minutes before Turris leveled Corvo, Ottawa stalwart Chris Neil biffed another Boston blueliner in Johnny Boychuk within the same neighborhood of the ice. Although there was absolutely nothing dubious about that hit, Boychuk adjourned to the locker room and has since been diagnosed with a concussion.
With his team suddenly reduced to five active defensemen for the balance of the tilt, team captain Zdeno Chara decided it was worth shriveling the blue-line brigade down to four men for five full minutes. Instead of working to protect Boston’s lead, which was 3-1 at the time of Boychuk’s injury and 4-1 by the time there was 9:36 to spare, he dropped the mitts with Neil with exactly seven minutes remaining.
Before Chara could return to action within the final two minutes of regulation, Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson capitalized on the shorthanded visiting defense and singlehandedly reduced the 4-1 deficit to 4-3.
In turn, Boston’s eventual 5-3 triumph needlessly morphed from an assertive coast to an antsy cliffhanger.
Luckily, for their sake, Chara and the Bruins escaped his error with the full two-point package and without lending any gains to the Senators, who with Sunday’s win over the Islanders continue to trail Boston by three points for tops in the Northeast.
By the end of Tuesday’s tilt and the start of the last full calendar month of the regular season, the Bruins could have anywhere between a five- and one-point lead on the Senators. True, they will still have four games in hand either way, but they do not want to give Ottawa any traction, especially in the aftermath of the trade deadline.
Allowing the gap to slim down to one point now could give the Sens the spark plug they need to go on another one of their point-gaining sugar rushes. A combination of that and another slump could render Boston’s games in hand moot and threaten what ought to be a relatively easy bid for the divisional crown and second place on the Eastern Conference leaderboard.
Accordingly, Corvo should man up in the less conventional, but more ethical and productive sense of the phrase. With the most scrutinized stage of the regular season taking shape, he should focus on remedying his egregious 2.1 percent shooting accuracy, which is almost three full points worse than his previous career low and worst among all Boston regulars.
One could argue that Corvo has done something to make Bruins buffs forget the near-debacle of Tomas Kaberle, but not nearly enough. He simply needs to dish up more first-hand and second-hand productivity from his point perch.
If he pursues the right course of action, he could make the Turris incident a turning point in his Boston tenure.
Reliable research indicates that one is not going to put a dent in the scoreboard by casting aside one’s gloves and stick, diverting attention from the puck and then burning five minutes of playing time in the sin bin.
That philosophy of avenging an opponent’s questionable act and denying them satisfaction by denying them a victory is not just a moral fiber campaign that only applies to the youth levels of hockey. Just consider what Bruins head coach Claude Julien said regarding the nascent Corvo-Turris saga:
I think Joe, just like anybody else, knows how important it is to win the game versus doing anything else. Joe’s a pretty smart individual. We need him on the ice, and he knows that...I understand where he’s coming from, but he’s gotta be bigger than that and I’m sure he will be.
Turris may have made contact with Corvo’s head on Saturday, but the Bruins have a chance to get into the Senators’ heads on Tuesday by sweeping the home-and-home and improving to 5-0-0 in the season series.
If they can do that and if Corvo can contribute a point or two, that ought to be all the satisfaction he needs for the immediate future and the traction he needs for the home stretch and subsequent playoffs.