The Boston Bruins have seen quite a few suspensions over the course of the last month. Brad Marchand, Andrew Ference and Milan Lucic have all been called to Brendan Shanahan's office in 2012, and according to these fine gentlemen, the long arm of NHL law has altered the way they've played the game over the last few weeks.
There also a sense of curbed physicality and tentativeness that replaced the B's normal swagger as the biggest, meanest, strongest club on the block. Now Lucic, Ference and Marchand have to be concerned about getting whacked by the league as repeat offenders, and Lucic admitted it's something that's given him pause since his return.
They've gone 5-5-1 in their last 11 games, and surely, there must be some explanation for this. It's actually a completely plausible theory, but the way it comes off in this story isn't going to win the Bruins any fans outside of Boston. The quotes from the players are really the best, and you can see them all in the CSNNE.com story, but this one from Lucic illustrates things the best:
"[The suspensions] might have something to do with [the struggles]. Let's be honest: They've come down pretty hard on us. Especially with the five- and the three-game suspensions . . . I mean, [the Devils' Patrik] Elias was a more blatant hit from behind [on Montreal's Mike Blunden last week] than mine or Ference was, and that was just a fine."
There's no problem with the notion that the Bruins are a physical team that's been forced to think about how they implement that part of their game after a few suspensions against some of their most important players. It's a totally plausible explanation as to why the team has fallen into a bit of a slump.
But the assertion from Lucic there that the Bruins are somehow being unfairly targeted by the league -- Elias' hit was worse and he only got a fine! -- is just silly and even a bit arrogant. Just own it, guys. You dished out some bad hits, and you have to alter your game so you don't do that anymore. It's not Brendan Shanahan's fault.