In honor of the blue-collar Bruins from the initial post-Big Bad era, the current crop of Boston skaters put forth a lunch pail effort against one of their longtime Original Six foes.
Fresh off a wild overtime win on Long Island the night before, the Bruins began their latest era night honoring the original Lunch Pail A.C. club with the members from that late 70s and early 80s timeframe coming out of the penalty box. The pregame highlights included Mike Milbury holding up a shoe in tribute to his infamous moment in 1979 at Madison Square Garden, John Wensink waving his arms in a challenge gesture for the first time since trying to provoke the entire Minnesota North Stars bench, and Ray Bourque assisting the inspirational Normand Leveille to drop the puck for the ceremonial face off.
The latest Bruins-Rangers matchup on Causeway St. slightly resembled some of the nasty and grueling battles the two squads engaged in during the 70s.
Indeed, no one hopped over the glass and into the stands to brawl with fans. Still, the historic rivals threw out some heavy hits, combining for three major penalties — a fight involving Trent Frederic and Jacob Trouba and a game misconduct from David Pastrnak’s boarding infraction on Ryan Lindgren.
Frederic’s net-front tally at 2:07 of the second, Vince Trocheck’s power play marker 10:50 into the third, and a handful of head-scratching calls completed the regulation portion of Saturday’s tilt.
The Rangers, however, had one more theatrical moment up their sleeves when Trocheck fired home the only shot of overtime to complete their come-from-behind victory.
Here’s what we learned from Boston’s 2-1 setback against the Broadway Blueshirts.
Frederic settles his issue with Trouba.
Frederic had been stewing over an ill-advised high-stick from Trouba in the first meeting on Nov. 25. The Rangers captain didn’t receive a penalty for his antics and only received a $5,000 fine just hours after New York’s 7-4 victory.
With that incident fresh in his mind, Frederic immediately exchanged words with Trouba the first time they touched the ice. As tensions escalated, the two finally dropped the mitts for a brief scrap, with Frederic landing a punch and a takedown at 11:05 of the middle frame.
“I can never hit him as hard as he hits me. I have to fight him 10 times to do that,” Frederic said of Trouba.
Trouba, known for his agitating physical brand of hockey, tried to avoid the fight for a little while. But the immediate aftermath of a nasty collision involving Matthew Poitras seconds beforehand prompted Frederic and Trouba to finally settle their differences with Wensink and his former bruising teammates in attendance.
“You can’t hit someone as hard as you can with a hockey stick, but I try, and I appreciate him bringing it back up on a Saturday night and watching all [the lunch pail] guys here and watching John Wensink and his video right off the get-go,” Frederic said. “I think that’s why he didn’t want to fight me because he thought I knew I would inject that.”
Earlier in that second period, Frederic also showed Wensink, one of his former coaches at the pee-wee level, his scoring touch, banking home a rebound for his seventh goal of the season.
Pastrnak’s ejection surprised Montgomery.
Perhaps the night’s aura presented Pastrnak with an opportunity for physical engagement. But anyone following the Bruins this season has witnessed Pastrnak throw his weight around a little more than usual.
The Czech showcased his muscle in the second, landing one of his two hits on Ryan Lindgren. His second hit on Lindgren, however, provided a surprising development.
While avoiding head contact with Lindgren, the Rangers blue-liner drew blood from the brunt of Pastrnak’s boarding infraction. Upon a conference and replay review, the officiating crew assessed Pastrnak with a five-minute major and game misconduct.
Surely, Pastrnak deserved a two-minute minor. But Pastrnak never hit Lindgren in the numbers and deserved a better fate according to his coach Jim Montgomery.
“Very surprised,” Montgomery said. “I thought it was [worth] two minutes. I don’t think he hits him anywhere near his numbers. I think he hits him in front of his shoulder, and unfortunately, [Lindgren] got hurt. So if there’s blood, it affects the call.”
Any contact from behind will draw immediate comparisons to hits that were or weren’t deemed excessive. Montgomery used a moment during his press conference to mention an uncalled infraction involving Marchand being on the receiving end earlier in the season.
But given Pastrnak’s ejection, the NHL Player Safety Department will likely take an extended look at his hit on Lindgren. Whether they decide to fine, suspend, or let Pastrnak off the hook is anyone’s guess.
The shorthanded Bruins feel their recent efforts will pay off.
Both Charlie McAvoy and Pavel Zacha spent the week nursing upper-body injuries. Yet, without their top-pairing blue-liner and No. 1 center, the Bruins came away with points in their three-game stretch.
At times, the Bruins encountered struggles generating scoring opportunities. In other instances, they succumbed to bad bounces and sloppy puck management. And more often than not, they needed Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark to bail them out with timely stops on high-danger chances.
In their recent back-to-back set, the Bruins faced three deficits against the Islanders and a Pastrnak ejection less than 24 hours later. But even without their top weapons, they’ve witnessed a collective effort with numerous players fulfilling their expanded roles.
“I’m really proud of our group for the desperation we played with and the togetherness two nights in a row,” Montgomery said. “We are shorthanded because of the injuries we have. But a lot of guys are playing with great compete, and I think our resiliency … it shows.”
Their sticktoitiveness manifested itself over three straight extra session outings, resulting in four points. During that stretch, they’ve witnessed Morgan Geekie perform admirably in a top-six role, a makeshift D remaining composed under pressure and a group effort to perform to their hard-working identity.
The Bruins may sit a point behind the Rangers atop the East following a tough loss. Yet, this early-season adversity may benefit them in the long run.
“We’re building some good things here with a lot of people getting minutes that normally wouldn’t have when healthy,” Montgomery said. “There’s a lot of positives to draw from it, but in the end, we would have liked to get the two points.”
Sign up for Bruins updates🏒
Get breaking news and analysis delivered to your inbox during hockey season.