Any question as to how Bruins fans feel going into tonight's Armageddon rematch against Matt Cooke and some other guys should be fully answered by now.
In today's Boston.com survey, fewer than 35 percent (as of 10:50 a.m.) responded that winning the game against Pittsburgh was more important than Boston getting its revenge. Fewer than 11 percent state that they hope both sides just play nice.
At this point, we've pumped and fluffed this game to the extent where no matter the level of response on the Bruins' part, the fans aren't going to be satisfied. Take out Sidney Crosby, and Collie Campbell and the rest of the NHL goofs will come down so hard on you that the ramifications will seal the odds that you don't make the playoffs. Claude Julien's boys are in a no-win situation tonight. They could demoralize the defending Stanley Cup champs, 42-1, and they'd probably still get booed by those seeking blood.
Justice more important than winning the game? More important than making the playoffs? No doubt the NHL invited all this by not suspending Cooke, but the level to which it has grown is something foolhardy. Maybe the Bruins will look gutless for not responding. Then again, maybe it's more vital to play smart than worry about how you look.
Most of all, spare me with the talk about what the "Big Bad Bruins" would have done in this situation. Because in the unlikely circumstance that the "Big Bad Bruins" were only three points up on the final playoff spot in the East, they more than likely would understand that you play to win the game.
Damien Cox of the Toronto Sun writes:
Tonight, idiotic Bruins play-by-play man Jack Edwards - probably the worst in the sport right now - will undoubtedly be frothing at the mouth and cheering on whatever Bruin decides to challenge Cooke to a fight. Cooke has already fought once in the four games since the incident - Rob Niedermayer was the opponent - and will probably oblige.
Assuming the Bruin player wins, some will be satisfied. Of course, if Cooke wins, there could be more trouble. Never forget it was Cooke's pugilistic defeat at the hands of Steve Moore on that fateful night that encouraged Todd Bertuzzi into thinking yet more revenge needed to be exacted.
But the idiocy never makes sense. So Cooke knocks out Savard, and then, say, Shawn Thornton engages Cooke in a scrap, and everything's okay again?
By desperately and deliberately keeping fighting in the game at all costs, the NHL allows this caveman thinking to live on. So carry on boys, knock each other's teeth out! Whatever it takes.
Meanwhile, looks to be like both the Bruins and Penguins could use a victory. To some, sadly, that's secondary.
Turns out more than half. Awesome.