Boston Sportsnight: Celtics’ slide, Sox’ closer, Bruins’ passion all in question


Tough night for Boston sports fans.  Really tough.

The Celtics lost again as they slump towards the playoff and an eventual 1st round exit, the Sox are in full-cringe when closer Joel Hanrahan takes the mound and the Patriots’ Alfonzo Dennard was perhaps spending his last night as a free man – but the most worrisome development on the Boston Sports’ scene is what happened with 4:50 left in the second period of the Bruins 5-4 win over the host New Jersey Devils…

…Brad Marchand is not innocent on the ice by any means – after all, he wasn’t referred to as the “Little ball of hate” by President Barrack Obama for nothing.

He is as intense a player as you will see, but his game is far more than raw emotion – as witnessed by his status as goal and points leader for a Boston Bruins team that now lead the Northeast Diviison of the NHL’s Eastern Conference, so he is more than an agitator, for which he takes his share of both hits and criticism.

But when New Jersey Devils’ defenseman Anton Volchenkov leveled Marchand with an elbow to the head Wednesday night, the most alarming thing about it wasn’t the hit itself, and it wasn’t the fact that Volchenkov appeared to directly target Marchand’s head that was disturbing – it was Marchand’s teammate’s response to the hit – or lack thereof – that is drawing question.

Hey, it’s hockey.  Some guys are goons and set out to hurt people.  Most are good, tough players who give their all to help their teams win, and almost all will come to the aid of a fallen teammate – but the only one who came to Marchand’s aid was newly acquired linemate Jaromir Jagr, who appeared more shocked by the Bruins’ lack of response than he was by the hit itself.

Hell, even Volchenkov tried to keep Marchand from hitting the ice face first after hitting him and then even after Jagr shoved him into the boards from behind.

What does this tell Jagr about his new team?  What does it tell Bruins’ fans about the chemistry of their unit?  Most of all, what does it tell Marchand about his teammates?  That they’re not going to have his back?

The Bruins may have held on to win last night’s game, but in the process may have lost some respect.

And in hockey, respect is everything.  So be prepared, Bruins, you just opened yourselves up for a little roughhousing from every goon and enforcer out there – they are going to test your will and determination and go after your scorers, and will continue to do so until you prove that you are passionate enough about your employ to come to the defense of one of your own.

And that’s a bad way to skate into the playoffs, no matter your seed…

Update: In response to the elbow to the head on Brad Marchand, the NHL has suspended New Jersey Devils’ Anton Volchenkov for four games, suspension to commence immediately.