Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Mar 23, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) punches Montreal Canadiens center Rem Pitlick (32) during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Boston fans were treated to a surprisingly entertaining night of hockey between the league-best Bruins and the stinky Montreal Canadiens. Big part of that was some good-old-fashioned crispiness.

Especially crispy was Brad Marchand, who was quick to tune up the Habs’ Rem Pitlick after the latter took a late run at Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron. Marchand tackled Pitlick to the ice and got some shots in before the officials separated them. Thankfully, USA Today photographer Paul Rutherford was able to capture a truly epic shot of Marchand, locked and loaded, which you can see in the above image.

  • Marchand was penalized an extra two minutes for roughing, but it was well worth it for him to send the message to Montreal that under no circumstances do you cheap-shot No. 37. It kicked off an extra-crispy night for the two historical rivals, which the B’s took by a 4-2 final behind Jeremy Swayman’s 29 saves.

    Was Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery happy to see Marchand summon the “Little Ball of Hate” and throw some fists for Pitlick’s cheap shot?

    “Yes. You don’t hit our captain late,” Montgomery said. “That was a three-second-late hit, and I loved the fact that Marchand made the guy pay a price for doing it.”

    In recent years, the Bruins had relatively lacked the element of protecting each other when things get heated. But that never changed with Marchand. He just has help now. But Marchand showed he can still take the initiative. With his fists.

    “It’s obviously outstanding,” David Pastrnak said. “It’s been kind of our motto on the team. It’s great to see when a guy like Marchy sticks up for our captain, and it definitely gets everybody going on the bench.”

  • BOSTON, MA - MARCH 23: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins throws a punch at Rem Pitlick #32 of the Montreal Canadiens during the first period at the TD Garden on March 23, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MA – MARCH 23: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins throws a punch at Rem Pitlick #32 of the Montreal Canadiens during the first period at the TD Garden on March 23, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

  • The teams combined for 39 total penalty minutes on Thursday night, which was especially impressive considering there wasn’t an actual fight. The only real drawback is that this will be the only game all season that the Bruins play the Canadiens in Boston. They will face off one more time in the regular season finale at the Bell Centre.

    There can be a downside to playing with emotions running high. The moment got the best of Bruins forward A.J. Greer, who cross-checked the Canadiens’ Mike Hoffman high between whistles. Hoffman was hit hard enough to get a busted lip. (UPDATE: Hoffman appears to have gotten a decent-sized cut on the chin, based on a video he posted about Greer getting suspended.) The incident earned Greer a five-minute major and a game misconduct. It will be a teachable moment for him, especially if he hears from Player Safety over it.

    “We talk about playing with emotion, which is great, but not getting emotional,” Montgomery said. “Unfortunately, Greersy, his stick rode up – I don’t know if it rode up his stick, his shoulder pad – it cut him. It’s something we can learn from, because you can’t take those kinds of penalties in the playoffs.”

  • The Greer penalty cost the Bruins, who gave up a goal on the ensuing power play. But ultimately, it simply made a two-goal win a little harder to attain. End of the day, it’s better that the Bruins played with emotion than without it.

    And if any future opponent thinks about getting cheap with Bergeron, they can just show them that Marchand picture. Be time for a knuckle sandwich. Extra crispy.

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    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

    Note: This story was updated with comments from David Pastrnak.

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