BOSTON - It might be politically incorrect to say, but seeing a teammate wheeled off the ice on a stretcher might serve as a rallying point that could lead the Boston Bruins to a Stanley Cup title.
At the same time, it is a legitimate observation.
As sickening as it was to watch Boston Bruins forward Nathan Horton's head crack off the TD Garden ice 5:07 into the first period Monday, at least there was some encouraging news. About 30 minutes after Horton was decked by Aaron Rome's late hit, word came that the Bruins forward was able to move all his extremities after being transported to Massachusetts General Hospital.
Horton's health is more important than the score of a hockey game, even if it is Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final. Let's be perfectly clear on that.
At the same time, you can bet the Bruins consider the incident a flagrant cheap shot and will want Rome suspended. If the league wants to save face after consistently claiming it is trying to remove head shots and late hits from the game, Rome should receive at least a two-game suspension.
Of course, whatever punishment comes down on Rome will be of little consolation to the Bruins, who are left wondering how long they will be without one of their top scorers.
For the Canucks, the tradeoff couldn’t be better. Aaron Rome for Nathan Horton? Advantage Vancouver.
While there were those in the press box who noted that Horton should not have been admiring the pass he had made when Rome nailed him in the noggin, that's not the point.
This is the type of hit that needs to be removed from the sport. Horton was the unsuspecting victim here.
End of story.
As for Rome, in the process of receiving a five-minute major and game misconduct for his actions, he may have also done something else.
He might very well have woken up a sleeping bear.
It's hardly a coincidence that the Bruins busted out of the dressing room for the second period firing on all cylinders. Buoyed by an Andrew Ference goal just 11 seconds after the intermission, the Bruins would score three more times in the period en route to an 8-1 thrashing of the Canucks.
Give the Bruins credit. With the packed house begging for Canuck blood to be spilled, Boston coach Claude Julien had his team gain revenge where it mattered most -- on the scoreboard.
“I know we taked about the fact that Horty is at the hospital right now hoping we win the game,” Julien said when asked what he told his team in the first intermission. “But more than anything we were concerned about his welfare.”
Will it be enough to spur on a Bruins comeback in this series? Too early to tell. Boston still needs to win three of the next four, a tall order against a more skilled Vancouver side.
Having said that, it's fascinating how the Canucks, often criticized for being too soft in the past, have assumed the role of villains in this series.
Indeed, the wrong team is wearing black. It should be the Canucks, not the Bruins.
Talk about role reversal.
In Game 1, the controversy revolved around Alex Burrows biting the glove of Patrice Bergeron, an act which did not result in a suspension.
Game 2 featured Canucks superpest Maxim Lapierre mocking Bergeron by thrusting his fingers in Bergeron's direction during a scrum.
Now comes Rome-Horton which, for the record, was not a blindside blow.
Emotions understandably bubbled over in the third period. Ryan Kesler and Dennis Seidenberg dropped the gloves; Daniel Sedin dropped to the ice like Greg Louganis when punched in the head by Andrew Ference; and Milan Lucic managed to pop Burrows in the face during a late scrum.
Keep this in mind: the Bruins are not innocent here. At times they, too, have crossed the line.
Either way, they are mad now.
And they are taking it out on the Canucks ... on the scoreboard.