Bruins still bitter over Savard hit

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:47 AM ET

Attention, Matt Cooke.

Introducing Shawn Thornton, Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic.

Get used to seeing these three large, boisterous Bostonians up close and personal when your Pittsburgh Penguins travel to Boston to meet the Bruins Thursday at the TD Banknorth Garden.

The Bruins have not forgiven Cooke for his blindside hit on Marc Savard Sunday, a blow that left the Boston forward carted off the ice with a concussion that likely has wiped out the remainder of the season.

Nor have they forgotten that NHL disciplinarians opted not to suspend Cooke, igniting heated debates all across the league.

As a result, all signs point to a potentially-explosive meeting between these two teams next week, just 11 days after Savard was removed from the Mellon Arena via stretcher.

Given the controversy that has swirled over this incident, the last thing the NHL needs is frontier justice being carried out. The era of the Broad St. Bullies, after all, is long gone.

Still, the league is taking no chances.

According to an email from NHL VP of hockey operations Mike Murphy to the QMI Agency Friday night, the league “will have someone present at the game” to supervise and make certain things don’t get out of hand.

Murphy didn’t say it, but maybe reading the two teams the riot act before the game might help.

It certainly couldn’t hurt.

CRUSHING CAMPBELL?

Two quick points about Colin Campbell, the NHL disciplinarian who has been consistently ripped this week for not coming down hard on Cooke.

First, while a public figure such as Campbell is fair game for criticism, some of the personal attacks on himin the media this week are hitting below the belt.

If you disagree with his decision, so be it. That’s fair.

But to question his integrity is not.

Anyone who knows Campbell understands that no one is more passionate about the NHL and the way the game is played than he is.

Slag him for his choices if you want. But not for his character.

Secondly, understand that Campbell works for the league. In other words, the owners. In many instances - albeit not necessarily this one - they are the ones calling the shots.

RESTLESS RANGERS

The New York Rangers are scrambling for their playoff lives.

Yet their off-ice actions are creating a bigger splash in the Big Apple than their on-ice activities.

Specifically, the at-times volatile relationship between coach John Tortorella and superpest Sean Avery.

With the Rangers preparing for a vital matchup with the Atlanta Thrashers Friday, Tortorella made Avery a healthy scratch for the first time this season.

“We’ve asked him for a while now for more engagement,” Tortorella told reporters. “And honestly, we just haven’t seen it.”

Tortorella benched Avery for much of the third period in the Rangers’ 6-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils.

Keep this in mind, too: When Tortorella was an analyst with TSN early in the 2008-09 season, he said Avery “doesn’t belong in the league.”

On Friday he obviously didn’t belong on Tortorella’s bench.

WINGS DINGED

A struggling Henrik Zetterberg isn’t the main reason the once-mighty Red Wings are in danger of missing the playoffs.

But he is a significant one.

After scoring 30-plus goals in four consecutive seasons, Zetterberg has just 18 this season. Admittedly he did miss eight games with a separated shoulder, but he still is below the standard expected of him.

“We need him to be better,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “That doesn’t mean he has to carry the weight of the world around on his back. Just find a way to be better, to be harder.”

CROSS CHECKS

Referee Kerry Fraser, who is retiring at the end of the season, officiated his final regular-season game in Montreal Thursday and the Bell Centre fans let him know they won’t miss him ... As if the Sedin twins weren’t already popular enough in Vancouver, they this week combined to donate $1.5 million US to the B.C. Childrens’ Hospital in Vancouver. In a week filled with controversies over head shots and suspensions, it was one of the few feel-good stories.


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