TD Bank North Garden, on a night where the Boston Bruins needed to show their fans, media and management that they believe in their coach, his system and each other, the message was received LOUD and CLEAR and it was at the expense of the Atlanta Thrashers!
The Bruins who were in the middle of the negative swirl losing four out of their last five games were led by Shawn Thornton Bruins' resident enforcer and respected voice in the locker room. Before the puck was even dropped, Thornton leaned over to Atlanta's Eric Boulton and asked if he would be willing to go. Boulton, who didn't have to say yes, did and got the place going.
They squared off and traded punches for a minute and 23 seconds, and to say the least, got not only the fans going but also showed his teammates this is the tone he wanted his players to play with every night.
Shortly after that, the Bruins shorthanded had the puck pop over their defenseman’s stick and Patrice Bergeron with a bunch of speed took off and went in all alone on Ondrej Pavelec the Thrashers goalie. Bergeron picked up his stick handling and just held on long enough that Pavelec ran out of space to have Bergeron stuff the puck inside the outside post to make the game 1-0.
Michael Ryder potted the second goal of the night, beating Pavelec top shelf with a snapshot that was just lightning fast.
Do you think the hit on Lucic was legal?
Thornton then took over again.
This time not with his fists but with flying around the ice setting up and creating scoring chances for everyone including himself. Thornton logged two shots on net and scored twice. Missed what would have been a career night by just missing the net to get the hat trick.
"Thornton’s getting a lot of credit and rightfully so,” said Julien, “He stood there at the beginning of the game and made sure everyone knew we were ready to play, and he got rewarded with some goals.”
"It was huge,” said Savard. “We needed something like this, showing that we’re a team, that we’re committed to working together. When we do, we get results. We did (last night). We had four lines going and it was fun. It was fun to be a part of that game.”
The fun really began for the sell out crowd of 17,565 when a little old school Bruins brawl started with 4:06 remaining after Freddy Meyer hit Milan Lucic somewhat high and Andrew Ference jumped to the defense of Lucic. Nathan Horton pounded Evander Kane, Marc Savard tangled with Bryan Little, and Lucic eventually dropped Meyer with a straight right hand in the scrum for which he received a match penalty.
The melee produced 98 minutes in penalties and almost certainly will result in a suspension for Lucic for at least a game, as a match is an automatic suspension, pending review. Lucic certainly got his money’s worth with the punch, and so did the fans last night.
“It was a high hit and I was bleeding from the lip after a hit like that,” Lucic said. “It was the second time that he hit me late and he hit me cheap. “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.
It was a great Christmas Gift for all Bruins fans. Let's hope this style of play will be on display next week as they play five games on the road starting Monday night in Florida.