The Eyeball Test returns because holy heck, what the butt is going on?
5. Jesus Christ, Shawn Thornton. Jesus. Christ.
And with one little on-ice assault, the self-styled white hat of hockey justice turns black. Just like that.
I think the world has covered enough of the incident and climate which lead to it... but I can't help myself. Orpik is a prick (I don't care what anyone says, that hit was high and the puck wasn't close enough to Eriksson to warrant it), James Neal is a complete prick, the officials have no pricks (if they'd nutted up from the get go in that game...), and Shawn Thornton did a terrible, awful, no good, very bad thing. (He should move to Australia.) Oh, and a special "fuck off" to Pascal Dupuis, who I've never liked, but only recently realized he looks like the lovechild of Peter Dinklage and a gorilla.
SO, let's look forward to our Shawn Thornton-less line up. Because for better or worse, he's going to be absent for some time.
Jordan Caron will see a heck of a lot of ice in the coming weeks. I'll give you a moment to subdue your shuddering. This season, for whatever reason, the Bruins braintrust has been unwilling to plume the P-Bruins and experiment with our forward depth. Instead, we get Thornton 90% of the time while Caron mummifies on the 9th floor. For the most part, I favor Thornton in this situation; he fits with his linemates, they generate chances, he tosses in a lightning strike goal or two, and (yes) he can fight and leave he ice with no significant loss of talent. Caron does none of that and if they want to cycle between those two guys, I far prefer Thornton. Since I can't have anything I want, Thornton mugs a guy and now the Bruins are stuck giving Caron 10 minutes a night.
Wait, he played 14 minutes against the Leafs last night? AHHHHHHHHH!
4. The Injury Bug is Less of a Bug, More of a Mothra-sized Insect
In the often appropriate if overplayed words of Ron Burgundy: "Boy, that escalated quickly."
Let's see, so Loui Eriksson is gone until someone puts humpty dumpty together again. Chris Kelly is LTIRed with Dupuis splinters. Adam McQuaid is on the IR with his vague "lower body" injury, which the less specific they are about it, the more I think it's venereal disease. Johnny Boychuk is nursing a sprained back, which honestly is the first time I've heard of that. Now Dougie Hamiliton -- poor, sweet Dougie -- is back in Boston getting his "lower body" checked out and will miss at least a week.
Also let's face it, Marchand is concussed and playing through it, but he's already a few lawn darts short of a picnic, so he can stay under the radar.
That's a lot of wound care. Everyone eat their Wheaties over the next couple of weeks or we'll never make it out of Western Canada. I guess we'll find out if...
3. The Kids are Alright (I mean the young Bruins, not the movie about Mark Ruffalo's sperm)
I don't know what my point here is. We have a bunch of Baby Bruins playing on this trip, I guess -- and more incoming! I spent too long hacking this image together and it's not even funny. HOPE IT WAS ALL WORTH IT, HOCKEY FANS.
2. Reilly Smith is Really Good*
Okay, so this wasn't his crowning moment of the weekend, but overall, Reilly Smith has looked sharp. He brings life to whatever line he's on, which is GREAT news for Bergeron and Marchand. Not to kick a man when he's down, but the Loui Eriksson edition of the second line has looked... I dunno... crappy? That's too strong. OFFENSIVELY crappy. As in "on offense." Not "pearl-clutchingly bad." Defense has been fine. I'm losing my through line. I like mittens.
REILLY SMITH -- or as I like to call him "O-O-O- O'Reilly!" -- is key to this roadtrip. The top two lines are going to shoulder a lot of the burden while everyone is on injury/suspension vacation. If Smith gets that second line humming -- and his presence seems to be helping Marchand's skating game -- the Bruins just might enjoy their Canadian tour. Since coming over as the "lesser" piece in the Seguin trade, he's been increasingly NAILS as he's learned the system and developed chemistry with his team-bros.
I like him.
1. Thank God the Next Two Weeks are Pillow Soft
There's no joke hidden in that image, unless you count the next two weeks AS the joke. Which they are. If the Bruins were going to get caught in a complete whirlpool of injuries and suspensions, this was the month in which to do it. I don't want to get cocky here, but we should be able to get at least 6 points out of this trip, then home again for the Flames again, then a home and home with the Sabres?
No one rush back. Just heal up. It'll be all hands on deck after the Olympics.