Not being one to complain about the quality of officiating in an NHL game, or lack thereof, it was very strange to see the events of Saturday night's Eastern Conference Final Game 1 unfold as they did.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are, we would all agree, the better team in the series when it comes purely to playing the sport of hockey, and few gave the Boston Bruins too much of a chance to advance to their second Stanley Cup Final in three years, with just one caveat. If they could agitate the Penguins into "playing their game," rather than that which Pittsburgh prefers, they at least had a chance. So far, so good.
The Penguins, who spent much of this season loath to be drawn into these types of incidents, were very much dismayed by the Bruins' behind-the-play rough stuff and insistence on finishing every check, and this issue was only exacerbated when David Krejci scored an ugly goal against the run of play midway through the first.
The Penguins had, to that point, not spent too much time actually trailing on home ice; they lost a pair of home games to the Islanders but apart from third-period goals, the amount of actual minutes spent behind on the scoreboard was minimal. They looked uncomfortable being down that early, and not having a way to answer back within less than a minute or two, as they had previously.
It was no real surprise that this situation, coupled with the Bruins' continual work along the boards to finish every check with as much authority as possible, caused things to come to a head early in the second. Just 1:38 in, Matt Cooke confirmed what every living-in-the-past Boston media member and fan has been saying about him: He hasn't changed at all. The five-and-a-game he got for running Adam McQuaid was well-deserved, regardless of how long the Bruins' defenseman, who has a history of concussions, lay prone on the ice, possibly (probably) trying to draw a call.