If you're a hockey fan from outside from New England, you may not be familiar with the term "don't poke The Bear." But realistically, it's not difficult to figure out exactly what it means when speaking about the Bruins.
For some reason, the Washington Capitals are having a hard time grasping the term.
Allow me to help: The Bruins are bears. They are "The Bear" in this statement. Don't poke them — or cross-check them in the face, slash them in the groin or call them cry-babies with three players and two officials in between.
These things bother the Bruins. And since the Caps already pulled these stunts and others like them, it now gives the B's the edge going forward.
The Caps have given the Bruins everything they have in the first three games of this nail-biting series, but they're now trying to beat the B's out their own game. But, as teams learned in last year's playoffs, you can't out-Bruin the Bruins. The Big, Bad B's have a history of being "that team." Not dirty, just blue collar and scrappy — they take great pride in aggressive, physical, no-nonsense hockey, which filters down from the very top of the organization in team president Cam Neely. Sure, goaltending and offensive depth propelled the Black and Gold to a Stanley Cup victory parade last summer, but finishing checks, out-toughing their opponent and giving their foes all the post-whistle attention they could was the straw stirring the drink — and has been since Day 1.
Many teams fail against these Bruins, but it seems that when teams try to play the B's game, they're basically giving up and asking to fail. The Caps are starting to do their best impression of Bruins hockey, and quite frankly, they're awful at it and it's embarrassing. Spearing Brad Marchand in the cup, cross-checking Rich Peverley in the teeth after the horn and doing a "cry-baby" motion to the game's most-feared player, Milan Lucic aren't the best ways to go about things. To add insult to injury, the Caps lost Nicklas Backstrom for Game 4 for the facelift he gave Peverely — an incident that was initially instigated by a cheap, late hit by the team's captain, Alexander Ovechkin, of all people.
While these weak attempts are meant to strike fear into opponents, it's not going to work against Claude Julien's squad. What happened last year when Nathan Horton was decapitated by Aaron Rome, or when Alex Burrows tried to nibble off Patrice Bergeron's fingers? The team got stronger. They harnessed such filthy actions into rage and took it to the President's Trophy-winning and top goal-scoring team and won Lord Stanley's namesake.
The Caps aren't "that" team and it's painfully obvious now that they're trying to be.