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Sports

May 11, 2014

After brief respite, big, bad Bruins return

BOSTON — The Boston Bruins returned to TD Garden last night for Game 5 of the second round of the National Hockey League playoffs.

No, I really mean it. The “Boston Bruins” returned last night.

Turning the other cheek was an interesting tactic. The Canadiens finally figured out how to score on the power play — P.K. Subban shoots and Thomas Vanek tips it in — and the Bruins reacted.

Or overreacted.

The Bruins played “smart” hockey for two games and got a split, thanks to a 1-0 overtime win on Thursday night. What a waste of time that was.

Going 60 minutes with one or two penalties, particularly when the Canadiens are involved, is not going to win over several million New Englanders this time of year.

Let’s be honest. The “Big, Bad” Boston Bruins have been the face of this organization for most of the last 50 years other than a few Jeremy Jacobs hiccups in the mid-1990s and for a few days last week.

Bruins fans want hits. It’s why Milan Lucic draws the biggest non-goal cheers of any Bruin the last decade. In fact, you can hear the anticipation of a big Lucic hit seconds before it actually happens.

“The fans love it, for sure,” said Lucic’s linemate, Jarome Iginla. “They love physical play.”

Maybe there will be a great, and I mean great power play unit, when the “cooler heads prevail” theme fits. That’s not the case here against the Canadiens.

When the Canadiens beat the Bruins in Game 3, a game in which the Habs actually outhit the Bruins 36-31, it was one hit that Montreal’s Travis Moen put on the gritty Iginla in the final seconds that sent a direct message to the Bruins.

It took four days to let that nasty, emblematic hit, which Iginla somehow immediately shook off, sink in.

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