As I write this, the Boston Bruins have won two games in a row without Marc Savard, the teams leading scorer, and arguably, ALL of their offense. Granted, the bench has stepped it up considerably, with guys like Peter Schaeffer and Phil Kessel finding the back of the net, but if Savard is out for the playoffs, or even playing with an injury that seriously hampers his ability to produce offense, it's safe to say that the Bruins chances of doing anything in the playoffs are effectively nil.
Savard was cross-checked in the back by Montreal's Steve Begin, and according the Boston Herald, has broken a small bone in his back. Granted, the article goes on to say that if you break your back, this is the best way to do it, but still- a guy on a team that has humiliated the Bruins all season long has taken out their leading scorer on a dirty play that was not penalized.
Now, with the Bruins seeming to solidify their standing, there is a pretty good chance that they will be facing the Canadiens in the playoffs. So if that happens, the question becomes, what happens to Begin? Are there going to be headhunters going after him?
I remember a time in this league when I relished seeing the "Kill Ulf" banners that hung in the old Boston Garden, and when the Penguins came to town, Sammuelson found himself a healthy scratch. Somehow, back in those days, that seemed like a lot of fun, frontier justice, and if he's going to do the crime, he better expect to pay a penalty.
But now, in the era of the NHL when the Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore incident still hasn't faded away, it's hard to really root for violent retaliation. And I don't think it's out of line to draw the comparison. When the Bertuzzi incident happened, Steve Moore had hit Marcus Naslund, the Canucks leading scorer up high in a previous game, in an unpenalized incident. During the next game, the Avalanche were blowing out the Canucks, embarrassing them. Obviously, I can't defend Bertuzzi's actions, but the circumstances were certainly volatile.
And now, with the Bruins, we have a leading scorer knocked out, and an embarrassed team, who has lost every single game against the Canadiens this year. I'd like to say that if the team meets in the playoffs that somebody like Lucic, Chara, Reich, or Shawn Thornton squares off with Begin fair and square, and they settle it at center ice, but I don't know. If it goes badly, and Begin is seriously hurt in a similar manner to the way Moore was, I'm not sure the game could survive it.
Something to think about.