PITTSBURGH — Maybe the Bruins should switch their colors from black and gold to black and blue after a tough physical battle with the Penguins in Game 1.
After the Bruins Sunday skate, center Patrice Bergeron spoke about finding himself in a rare fight with Penguins star Evgeni Malkin as the second period came to a close.
“I guess it’s just part of the playoffs,” Bergeron said. “We know that the emotions are high, the intensity’s high, games are big so I don’t know if I’m really surprised but at the same time it just happened.”
When asked what initiated the fight on the ice, Bergeron said: “I don’t know. I guess just the fact that he grabbed me from the side, we just kept pushing each other. I don’t know, there’s not one particular thing that started it.”
Bergeron was asked if he was surprised to find that Malkin, known for his goal scoring and not punching prowess, was the Penguin he found himself in a scrum with at the end of the period.
“I don’t know, I don’t fight that much either,” Bergeron said. “Like I said, it’s part of the emotions and part of the playoffs, so there’s not much to say about it.”
Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton did have a bit more to add on the fisticuffs between Bergeron and Malkin.
“We had to do [team photos] today for something, so I told him in the last six team pictures I had a shiner,” Thornton said jokingly. “So welcome to my world.”
Thornton also said he liked what he saw from the usually reserved Bruins center.
“I think everyone knows how much of a fan I am of [Bergeron],” Thornton said. “When he gets that riled up it’s usually for a good reason. I like it. He’s not afraid to step up when he has to. We’re behind him 100 percent and it gets the guys fired up when you see him get that emotionally involved. If you weren’t into it, it probably forces you to be into it at that point.”
Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid also had a rough night, but it wasn’t because of any punches landing. The crushing blow came from the Penguins infamous roughhouser Matt Cooke, who was tossed from Game 1 for hitting McQuaid from behind and crushing him into the boards in the second period.
According to Cooke, as he went in on the forecheck, he and McQuaid made eye contact. McQuaid had a different take on the event after Bruins practice today when asked if he was more aware of his surroundings when Cooke is on the ice.
“I think you’re aware of whomever you’re playing against,” McQuaid said. “You gotta know who you’re out with and who you’re out against and you kind of have an idea of what guys different strengths are so you just have to be aware of that… I know who I was playing against. I wasn’t necessarily exactly sure who it was. I knew a guy was coming down on me, guys are going to be forechecking and stuff.”
McQuaid was asked if he was disappointed that the NHL didn’t request a hearing on the Cooke hit where he may have been suspended.
“Honestly, it’s behind me,” McQuaid responded. “There’s so many things to focus on and get ready for and we just get ready for the next game and that’s it.”
Julien shared his thoughts on the Cooke check and the players’ responsibility not to put themselves in vulnerable positions where they might get hurt on similar plays.
“And I’ve said it before, and I’m certainly not going to change my mind because it happened to one of our players, but I’ve always said that we have to educate our players to not put themselves in vulnerable positions,” Julien said. “And I’m not talking necessarily about last night, I’m talking about those kind of things that are happening and right now. Because the rule says you can’t hit somebody from behind. Sometimes we take advantage of that rule, and it’s dangerous.
“And in order to make our game better, I think it’s gotta come from both sides. Players gotta understand that there’s somebody coming and don’t put yourself in vulnerable position. But the player hitting, have to be aware of it. And I’ve been an advocate of that a long time and I still believe in it.
“As far as the Cooke situation, I think the referees had to call that. And you see his head going into the boards and numbers on numbers. Had to be called. Whether it’s a 2, whether it’s a 5, I’m not going to dispute that. But more than that I think they had to make the call, and I don’t know what the decision, whether it’s been made or whether it’s going to be made.
“I’ll be honest with you, I have no issues if he’s not suspended because I’m not convinced it’s a suspendable thing, but I’m certainly not going to say that the referees didn’t make the right decision, because I think they did in assessing the penalty.
Julien also spoke about Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask and his cool, calm demeanor he’s exhibited on the ice during the playoffs and how his goaltending style might compare to the Bruins former No. 1 goalie Tim Thomas.
“When you look at Tuukka when he’s at his best he’s straight to the puck,” Julien said. “Tim is more of a battler. Timmy it wasn’t about style, it was about battle. And as I said at the end of the night it’s not making saves. You respect the Dominik Hasek back in the day as much as you respect the guy who is like Patrick Roy, great beautiful goaltender and those two guys had different styles but at the end of the day you take any one of them so we’re in that same situation right now where we had Timmy make the save when you had to make the saves and didn’t matter how he made them as long as he did, and Tuukka probably technically a little bit more, I don’t know if I want to say stable, but he’s more of a guy that will follow the puck getting him square it most of the time.
“I told you the other day he’s normal. Tuukka’s normal, really. And you know what I’m not going to get into Timmy. But I know that, I’m just saying Tuukka is normal like when I say normal as I’ve ever seen in a goaltender, Mike could talk to him during periods and go talk to him about a couple of things. I wouldn’t dare do that with any other goaltender I’ve had in the past. They’re in their bubble. But with him he listens and it’s no problem, so on and so forth. So that’s Tuukka. Very relaxed but you’ve seen the other side of him when things don’t go his way, he’s got a temper. That to me is normal.”
The teams get back to what promises to be another physical battle Monday night at 8:20 p.m when the puck will drop for Game 2.