After finishing second in the league with 71 fighting majors last season, the Bruins have not engaged in any fisticuffs so far this year. Might that change on Saturday?
The Bruins complete their first road trip of the year with a stop in Chicago. While the old Original Six rivals don't see each other often playing in different conferences, there is some recent history here.
The last clash between the clubs came at the Garden on March 29. The Bruins prevailed 3-0, but the game was remembered mostly for the grisly sight of Boston tough guy Shawn Thornton suffering a gash above his eye that required more than 40 stitches to close after being sliced by the skate of then-Blackhawks forward Fernando Pisani.
Thornton had no issue with Pisani, as there was no intent behind the accident that sidelined Thornton for three games. But the Bruins enforcer was less happy with the Chicago bench for chirping him as he skated off the ice bleeding profusely. Despite his injury, Thornton attempted to get at the Blackhawks bench, but was held back and led to the locker room for repairs.
"Someone said, obviously I can't swear while I'm talking to you guys, but there was some stuff said that I'm not too happy about," Thornton said after that game. "If I ever find out who it was I'll deal with it in my own way.
"There's guys on their team that chirp a lot and stuff, but I don't know if it's right when somebody's face if halfway across the other side of their face," Thornton added. "But it's a tough game and people have to live with their actions."
The Blackhawks fired back the following day, with Chicago enforcer John Scott, who was not dressed for that game in Boston, laying down the gauntlets for the next meeting with Thornton and the Bruins.
"If I'm in the lineup, he's more than welcome to come and chirp at me," the 6-foot-8, 258-pound Scott said. "I'll kick the [expletive] out of him."
So should fireworks be expected Saturday night in Chicago?
The Bruins were too focused on Wednesday's game in Carolina to look ahead to Chicago before they left on this trip and Thornton did not speak to the media in Chicago, while Scott defused the situation a bit on Thursday.
"I forgot about that," Scott told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I don't expect anything to happen. If I forgot about it, I'm sure he forgot about it. It was an issue at the time, but the press blows things up. Maybe he's still upset, but I don't have any bad blood."
Scott did admit to knowing which of his teammates made the chirp at Thornton, but wasn't sharing that information. "Oh yeah, I know who it was, but I'm not going to say anything," Scott said.
Chicago forward Patrick Kane wasn't naming names either, but did claim that Thornton would find it hard to get back at the chirper on Saturday.
"Well, I think the guy that was yelling at him is off our team now, so I don't know how he's going to take care of that," Kane told the Sun-Times on Friday. "But that's the least of our worries."
Scott has played in just one of Chicago's first three games, but could be in the lineup Saturday. The Blackhawks also added some addition muscle this offseason, bringing agitator Daniel Carcillo, Jamal Mayers, Sean O'Donnell and Steve Montador aboard.
If Thornton can't get at the mystery chirper, he could at least look to even the score against Carcillo, who got the best of the first regular-season outdoor fight when they battled at Fenway Park in the 2010 Winter classic. Thornton has also fought Mayers and Montador in recent years, while Montador also took on Johnny Boychuk last season and O'Donnell dropped the gloves with Nathan Horton in the playoffs.
The Bruins haven't opened a season without a fight in their first five games since 1997-98. With the history between the players involved in Saturday's showdown, there's a decent chance that the 2011-12 campaign won't snap that streak.