BOSTON — On the one hand, no Bruin should ever be surprised by a questionable hit administered by a Flyer at this point.
The carnage caused by the Randy Jones hit on Patrice Bergeron three years ago, Scott Hartnell’s shot on Andrew Alberts later that year and any of the antics perpetrated by Daniel Carcillo don’t leave the Bruins with much reason to give the Flyers the benefit of the doubt.
However, first-year Flyer Jody Shelley doesn’t possess the reputation of a dirty player. A tough guy sure, his 1,420 penalty minutes in 569 career games in the NHL, most coming in five-minute chunks against willing opponents, attest to that.
But the last 15 PIMs were a little different. They came 5:08 into the second period Saturday night when Shelley appeared to shove Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid from behind as they raced to chase down a puck behind the Boston net. McQuaid crashed face-first into the boards and remained down for several minutes before being helped to the locker room.
He returned later in the period, but Shelley’s night was over, as he was given a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct.
“I looked at it again and personally, I didn’t think there was any need for it,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “I don’t know what the intention was, but certainly, there was no need for that at all and I think that’s one of the things we’re trying to get out of game.”
Still, Julien also couldn’t help but also offer up a bit of a defense for Shelley, whom he coached against in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League a decade ago.
“I know Shelley a little bit from a long time ago and he’s actually a good person and, to me, he’s a tough guy,” said Julien. “I don’t know that he’s purposely gone out there to injure people like that so I found that a little bit strange that he would do that. It’s unfortunate. Like I said, it’s uncalled for. Hopefully the league deals with it the proper way and we’ll go from there.”
Bruins tough guy Shawn Thornton, who fought Shelley in the clubs’ last meeting in Philadelphia on Dec. 1, offered a similar perspective.
“In my history with that guy, he’s always been honest with me,” said Thornton of Shelley. “I’m hoping it was an accident. If it wasn’t, that’s exactly the stuff we talk about as players, as a union getting out of the game, dangerous plays like that.”
After the game, McQuaid noted that Shelley had already apologized.
“When I was coming off the ice, he was waiting for me there,” said McQuaid. “He said he was sorry and he didn’t mean to, so I just kind of got to take what he says.”
But the Bruins blueliner still wasn’t sure what to think of the incident.
“Well, I mean, I didn’t go in on my own,” said McQuaid. “I felt like I got pushed. I don’t know. I’m not sure. I have to take a look at it, I guess.”
Other Bruins were a bit more skeptical of Shelley’s explanation.
“If there’s any risk of injuring the other guy you’re supposed to pull back and kind of use common sense,” said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. “It didn’t happen I guess.”
McQuaid was just happy to have avoided serious injury.
“I’m alright,” said McQuaid. “I’m sure I’ll be a little sore and a little stiff tomorrow, but not too bad.”
And the fact that McQuaid was able to shake off the effects of the hit and return to finish the game, didn’t surprise his teammates.
“He came back, he’s a tough kid,” said Thornton of the Prince Edward Island native. “He’s a quiet kid, but he’s tough as nails. A tough Islander.”