If you’re wondering why the Bruins’ response to Emil Bemstrom’s elbow to Tuukka Rask was so subdued, here’s a possible explanation.
They had no clue what happened.
Just 1:12 after opening puck drop in Boston’s eventual 3-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, the B’s netminder left the game with what later was diagnosed as a concussion. Bemstrom skated across Rask’s crease and delivered what appeared to be an elbow to the goalie’s head. Rask went to the ice and eventually to the dressing room.
Following the game, Rask’s teammates explained that they really had no clue what happened — and judging by Brandon Carlo’s response, the referees didn’t have much of an idea, either.
“Eventually (I figured out what happened), didn’t really recognize it right away,” Carlo said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “Didn’t know. After he went down I was asking the ref what happened, and he said that it was an accidental just stick to the face. And that’s what he saw, I don’t know if the guys were aware of that at the time, but after the first period we obviously saw it.”
Carlo technically had pushed Bemstrom across the crease, but the defenseman wasn’t buying that as an excuse.
“From my perspective, being that close to the play and being the one that supposedly kind of pushed him into (Rask), I barely even shoved him at all,” Carlo said. “It wasn’t a strong play on my part by any means, I was just trying to clear the front of the net just lightly, not even too assertively. So I think he did get his arm up a little bit there, and unfortunately, we didn’t recognize that sooner.”
A pair of Boston’s third line forwards also said they missed it.
“I don’t know if guys saw replay, I didn’t see anything personally, so I can’t talk about it, because I didn’t see it. … I haven’t seen it at all,” Charlie Coyle said. “I think guys saw the replay and that’s when guys started speaking up and all that, but I guess they must’ve missed it, I don’t know, I missed it too.”
“I was kind of looking on the bench, didn’t see it too clearly,” Danton Heinen said. “I hope he’s OK.”
Head coach Bruce Cassidy had a straightforward response.
“I thought it was clearly an elbow. Unfortunately, no call.”
Here are some other notes from Tuesday’s Bruins-Blue Jackets game:
— Jaroslav Halak took over for Rask, and after delivering a lackluster performance Monday against the Philadelphia Flyers, he wasn’t too sharp against the Jackets, making 24 saves on 27 shots.
Though it only goes so far as an excuse, it is challenging for a goalie to go into a situation as Halak did.
“It’s tough on Jaro. He played last night, he can certainly handle back-to-backs, but when you know you’re not going in, this morning he probably did some extra work,” Cassidy said. “Jaro made some stops to hold us in there when we needed to, but at the end of the day, we didn’t answer for him.”
— Cassidy benched Matt Grzelcyk against Columbus because he didn’t like how the third-pairing defenseman played against the Flyers.
As a result, Steven Kampfer took over in Grzelcyk’s spot. He ultimately played 16:02, a healthy amount of minutes for sure, while also playing on the second power-play unit, getting 1:43 ice time on the man advantage.
One has to think Grzelcyk’s time as a spectator will be short-lived, but Kampfer’s a fine option if Cassidy wants to keep driving home the message.
— Things aren’t going to get much easier for the Bruins, who now will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins (which regained Sidney Crosby Tuesday night) at TD Garden on Thursday.