Shawn Thornton and the Boston Bruins got the last laugh on Montreal Saturday night in Game 5 of their playoff series.
The Bruins soaked Montreal 4-2 and Thornton pressed the point by squirting P.K. Subban with his water bottle and about 45 seconds to play.
The Thorty Squirty.
Subban pleaded his case to the refs. Water into whine, you might say. Meanwhile, Thornton laughed along with the rest of the millions who call themselves Bruins fans despite the purported downside on Twitter. It was a moment of sheer joy and triumph for the Bruins, who played their best game of this series front-to-back in taking a 3-2 series lead.
Game 6 is in Montreal Monday night. The Canadiens will begin with their flamboyant pregame fire and ice ceremony, or something more ostentatious. Montreal has won the battle of pregame ceremonies. The Bruins have saved their victories for those moments after the puck drops.
There will probably be another story about how grade-school kids in Quebec were not allowed to wear Bruins jerseys to school; Tweets about the Centre Bell banning certain website IP addresses; columns about sports writers criticizing sports writers for writing unintelligible columns and then laughing about it; lame, profane and idiotic social media posts that I could not share and keep working for John W. Henry at the same time; and the elevation of a hockey series to something akin to a rematch of the War of 1812.
This series has been buried in lots of non-hockey material. Thornton's late spray was non-hockey at its finest, but it was this rivalry at it purest. Just over the line. Done with a smile. And nobody was hurt. Thornton was fined $2,820.50 - the league maximum - by the NHL Sunday for "unsportsmanlike conduct." A small price for sure. That's about $100 an ounce. Well worth it.
Who loves that dirty water? Probably not Subban.
It was emotional. Filthy in the good sense. Dirty but not cheap. Trash talking with a water bottle. This is why the Bruins keep a player like Thornton in the lineup. Thornton is five weeks older than Tom Brady and has considerable more wear and tear on his body. Thornton has managed to stay with the Bruins since 2007. His contribution to this team rests in those "intangibles" that statisticians and numbers crunchers always seem to miss. But he is the quintessential Bruin when it comes to finding his place among the fan base. Limited talent. More hard work than skill, at least these days. Not afraid to throw or take a punch. Ready with words of wisdom and simple math. ["We just need one every five minutes."]
Always ready for mischief, complete with a smile.
What, he worry?
There was a tiny element of danger, at least when it came to the potential of Subban somehow getting hurt as a result of his temporary blindness. There will be howls from Montreal, no doubt, because Thornton was the same player who was suspended for 15 games after his ugly hit on Brooks Orpik earlier this season.
He is an easy and lazy type cast as the typical "Boston thug." Don't be surprised if there's an investigative report from CBC Montreal about those 17,000 racist Tweets Thornton never posted.
"It was a squirt not fit for Squirt, Mites or Pee Wees." You're free to lift that line, CBC, too.
Call 9-1-1 in Montreal. Shawn Thornton is coming to town.
Gendarm! Gendarm! Arrest him for "spraying with intent to humiliate."
Subban, to his credit, gave the Bruins credit for coming out with aggressiveness and a thrust on offense. Hell, the Bruins even scored on the power play Saturday. That's something that hasn't happened in the playoffs against Montreal since Michael Ryder did five years ago in Game 2.
Subban had little issue with Thornton after the game. "Someone had squirted water twice in the last minute and a half, that's part of the game," Subban said in comments aired on CSNNE. "But if that was me doing it, it would be a story for the next three days ... You guys don't need to make a big deal out if it. It's not why we lost. They played well. We have to be better."
Well, we'll see how those brilliant and oh-so-accurate journalists north of the border follow Subban's wise and sportsmanlike commentary after the game. Subban would thrive and succeed in Boston, however, if the Bruins have the opportunity to acquire him in the offseason.
After his visor wash, Subban faked a little stick spear in Thornton's direction. That's all Thornton needed to start laughing. The Thorty Squirty came after Subban celebrated a game-winning goal that came on a two-man advantage [power play & pulled goalie]. The score left the Bruins up 4-2, but you could not tell by Subban's "get the Duck Boats ready" reaction.
New dad Tuukka Rask and his girlfriend will celebrate Mother's Day as parents for the first time Sunday. Rask made 31 saves and continued his stellar play from Game 4. Fatherhood has suited him well in the past few days after a choppy start. Rask has outplayed Carey Price twice in a row giving the Bruins that decisive edge heading into Game 6.
Thornton's antics aren't going to win the Bruins any games, nor will they please coach Claude Julien. The Bruins' Leadership Triad of Peter Chiarelli, Cam Neely and Julien, have gone full Bill Belichick on the rest of the league. NHL bosses are scrambling in their wake, trying and figure out how have they put together such a balanced and deep team and imitating wherever possible.
All the President's Cup Men appear to be peaking at the right time this time.
Through design and perhaps a little luck, the Bruins have scored big with three of the four players acquired in the Tyler Seguin day-care center drop off in Dallas last July 4. Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith and The Kiwi Strawberry Kid, Matt Fraser, have all contributed substantially during this series.
In 2007, the Bruins acquired Carl Soderberg from St. Louis, trading "a broken toy for a broken toy" in July of that year. It took nearly six years, but Soderberg finally joined the Bruins last spring and has been a steady contributor since. Chiarelli thought often about dealing but never did because Soderberg kept insisting he wanted to play in the NHL.
Jag älskar Loui Eriksson pic.twitter.com/nS0snh0BYt— John Blake (@jblake1014) May 11, 2014
Now, Soderberg and his fellow Swede, Eriksson, enjoy a little national camaraderie of their own. They each scored Saturday an assisted on the other's goal. Boston's fourth goal was scored by Eriksson and was assisted by Fraser [Segiun trade] and Soderberg [Chiarelli's patience].
With all due respect to Ben Cherington, Peter Chiarelli doesn't get enough credit in this town, either.
Thorty's Squirty represents the polar cap opposite of all those hockey smarts that the Bruins rely on from their coach, president and GM. Julien's brilliance and patience to go with, and stick to, a four-line attack kept the Bruins fresh in Game 5 and should continue to pay escalating dividends as this series continues, and possibly concludes, Monday night.
In the meantime, enjoy the ride as Thornton is viewed "avec mepris" through the French-speaking environs of Eastern Canada.
Thornton will certainly be loving every minute of it.
The OBF Blog is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Got a news tip, want to let him know directly what you think, have a complaint or compliment about his "aggressively relevant" content or hate people who speak about themselves in the third person, hit him up on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or hit him on at his
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