Rossi: Yep, it’s a rivalry. An ugly one at that.


BOSTON — Well, it’s a rivalry now.

Penguins-Bruins just went up a couple degrees, perhaps becoming hotter than Penguins-Flyers or Bruins-Canadiens.

What happened at TD Garden on Saturday night was many things to many people, but ugly is the best word I can find.

>> The GAMER sets up this blog entry:



*** Shawn Thornton will have an in-person hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. Thornton has no past history of suspension, or even a previous hearing; so, Brendan Shanahan will not have player precedent on which to base his decision.

*** This is Shanahan’s explanation for a 7-game suspension to Buffalo’s John Scott, who had never before had an illegal hit, for an early-season hit on Boston’s Loui Eriksson:

*** James Neal will have a phone hearing, and there is precedent upon which Shanahan can rule. Neal was suspended for hits deemed “reckless” during the 2012 playoffs. He should get no more than five games because the hearing is by phone.

*** Brooks Orpik was knocked out, and that means he has a concussion. That means he will need to pass a cognitive baseline test before he can return to play. That means the Penguins are down three of their top-four defensemen: Orpik (concussion), Paul Martin (foot) and Rob Scuderi (broken ankle).

Robert Bortuzzo, who has played only once in 13 games, is about to be set free from coach Dan Bylsma’s doghouse.



Taking you INSIDE the Penguins, like me:


ONE… Bylsma is rarely emotional after defeats, and he did well to stay stoic after this loss to Boston. His reaction to Neal’s hit on Boston’s Brad Marchand, though, was telling. Bylsma, who could have chosen defense of Neal, offered that Neal “didn’t attempt to get out of the way.”

That is accurate based off the video replay.

Neal, for what it’s worth, said he should have tried to avoid Marchand.

He could have, based off the video replay.


TWO… Brandon Sutter acknowledged that the Penguins’ intent was to take it to the Bruins, physically, early.

Jarome Iginla tried to speak diplomatically, but he acknowledged that Orpik’s early check on Eriksson hit a nerve for the Bruins.

“I think emotions happened here,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “Why did that happen? Maybe you should ask yourself that question. Why did all that stuff happen afterwards? There has to be a reason it happened.”

How about these?

### A four-game sweep by Bruins in the East final that humiliated this core of Penguins more than any playoff elimination I’ve covered – and I’ve covered all of their playoff eliminations.

### Five straight games, dating to that series, decided by one goal, including all three this season.

### The Penguins’ need, seemingly, to prove to the Bruins they can play big-boy hockey. They tried to prove that in Game 1 of the conference final last season, and it backfired. The Penguins are tough. They do not need to prove that to any opponent. Continuously trying to prove that to Boston is a mistake. Macho doesn’t win championships. See the Blackhawks.

### If you polled the Penguins, Marchand would be the most disliked player, and the vote would probably not be close.

### And, finally, a belief, on both sides, that this third and final meeting would be a tone setter for what would be a rematch in the East final.

Emotions did happen here on Saturday night. Emotions aren’t always the best things.


THREE… Marc-Andre Fleury quickly left the dressing room, and probably not because he was worried about missing the team bus. He has a look about him when disgusted with himself, and he had that look after Zdeno Chara’s goal with 13 seconds remaining. That look had not left Fleury as he entered the room.


BONUS… Orpik spends his summers in Boston. He spent the early part of the NHL lockout training with several Bruins at Boston College, his alma mater. He has usually spoken highly of Thornton, so much that I always presumed they were on friendly terms. There are layers to what happened on Saturday night. It was not quite tragic, but it was something terrible.



*** A previous blog post about the Iginla-Penguins dynamic, which might only add to what you’re thinking no matter what side you’re on:

*** A NOTER full of updates, including a promising one on Rob Scuderi:

*** My weekly #TribHKY Insider column, which was written before Orpik was injured, and now (at leas to me) feels out of place:

*** Jonathan Bombulie’s Gotta-Have-It AHL Penguins update:

*** A special column by Dejan Kovacevic on the events from Saturday night:


Be EXCELLENT to each other,