The bitterness that has built up between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins has reached an all-time high. Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik was carried off the ice on a stretcher Saturday night in the first period after being attacked by Shawn Thornton.
Orpik lined up Loui Ericksson in the offensive zone which proved to be a clean hit. Thornton then came up to Orpik and shoved him against the glass attempting to draw the Penguins’ blueliner to drop the gloves. Thornton was then called for a roughing minor after it was all said and done.
He did not quit there. Moments later after a scurmish at center ice, Thornton came up to Orpik from behind and slew footed him to the ice. Then he fell on top of him and threw two punches to Orpik’s head. After officials grabbed Thornton, the Penguins’ defenseman laid motionless on the ice and the medical staff was on the scene.
This was not quite as bad as the Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore incident, but it was close. And this is the last thing Pittsburgh needs right now. Paul Martin and Rob Scuderi are already facing injuries and are a long way from returning. Now that Orpik is obviously out of the equation for the Penguins with a possible concussion, this could prove to be the biggest blow of all their injuries this season.
That is just because of what Orpik brings to the table each and every night. He has never been known to show up on the score sheet a lot, but he is indeed one of the best skaters in the NHL, he is physical, leads the Penguins in hits and is always on the top unit as a shut-down defenseman.
The actions of Thornton were despicable and classless. There is no need for these types of things to go on in the league and there is no doubt he will be receiving a call from Brendan Shanahan.
“They wanted to send a message to their team that they were going to stick up for their player, but they took it too far,” Sidney Crosby said after the game.
For Pittsburgh, they are now down their top three defensemen and will more than likely call up Robert Bortuzzo to fill the void. The good news is that Simon Despres is playing well for the Penguins. Nonetheless, Boston took a huge piece from Pittsburgh Saturday night.