Tampa Bay Lightning v Boston Bruins - Game One

Could the Lightning’s enforcer-free system put them at risk against the Bruins?


As Joe discussed following Game 1, the Boston Bruins decided to “send some messages” once it was obvious the Tampa Bay Lightning would win. While the late game incidents made many wonder if the league should respond, Damian Cristodero wonders if the Lightning might regret their enforcer-free policy.

In case you weren’t aware, the Lightning are opposed to dressing players whose only mission is to fight. It’s a standard set by general manager Steve Yzerman (from the rarely fighting Detroit Red Wings organization) and head coach Guy Boucher, who also prefers using players who can actually play the game. Boucher and Yzerman preach to players to avoid retaliating when other teams start scrums that will often result in penalties, subscribing to the Red Wings’ tradition of “making them pay on the scoreboard” thanks to the frequently resulting power plays.

Conversely, some wonder if that borderline pacifism puts star players such as Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier at greater risk for injury. Cristodero discusses the pros and cons of employing a true enforcer rather than going with the Lightning’s belief in “team toughness.”

As we read in today’s paper, the Tampa Bay Lightning is employing a no-retaliation policy against the Bruins. That is, if it is obvious the Bruins (who play physically, especially at home, in the hopes of goading opponents into penalties) are going to be a man down, do not get sucked in to any pushing, shoving or fighting that might mitigate the power play. It also, as coach Guy Boucher said on Sunday, keeps the players focused on team structure rather than worrying about retaliating.

Still, I’m sure there are enough fans who believe the Lightning should stick up for themselves more in situations such as the ones that occurred in Game 1. We saw Dominic Moore take a roundhouse right from Nathan Horton. We saw Victor Hedman get decked by a punch from Milan Lucic without retaliation. Even Vinny Lecavalier said he stopped his physical challenge to Johnny Boychuk after Boychuk slugged him because he saw Boychuk was going to get a penalty.

The question is, though, would any of that stuff not happened in the first place if the Lightning had a legitimate tough guy. Oh, there are several guys who can fight pretty well. We know Steve Downie is not scared of anyone, and Ryan Malone can throw ’em as can Lecavalier. But, generally, the Lightning is not built that way.

Ultimately, it might come down to personal preference. The Bruins’ feed off physicality and intimidation, but that type of aggression can lead to ill-advised penalties. The Lightning were the smarter and far more successful team in Game 1, so we’ll see if there is any carryover into Game 2.

Considering the success of the Red Wings and the already-impressive start for Yzerman and Boucher in Tampa Bay, it’s pretty tough to argue with their current policies.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.