- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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BOSTON -- Even before the Bruins landed in Boston around midnight on Friday, the team already knew its captain Zdeno Chara would not be suspended for an incident that occurred in the closing seconds of Game 5 in Buffalo.
As the Buffalo Sabres were ready to celebrate their 4-1 Eastern Conference quarterfinal victory, an all-out scrum ensued with Chara right in the middle of it. The Sabres' Paul Gaustad initiated the incident by slashing Chara, and after the on-ice officials handed out a slew of penalties, Chara was given an instigator penalty.
League rules state that a player who is given an instigator penalty in the last five minutes of a game automatically receives a one-game suspension. Sabres coach Lindy Ruff did his best to sell the league on a suspension to no avail.
"He shouldn't be suspended for that anyway," said the Bruins' Johnny Boychuk. "If they did, it would probably be a joke."
After the game, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli put in a request with the NHL to have Chara's instigator penalty rescinded, and after review the league acknowledged there wasn't an issue.
"To me, it was common sense," said Julien. "When you look at what happened and how it was put on paper after the game, it didn't make much sense."
Losing Chara for Game 6 would have been devastating for the Bruins, but Julien said Saturday he never thought it was really an issue.
"To be honest with you, I wasn't even worried because I couldn't see the [suspension] happening," he said. "It didn't take them long to rescind that stuff and it didn't make any sense. A guy gets slashed behind the leg with a two-hander and he just turns around, he still has a glove on and takes a pop and then three guys jump him. Where does all this stuff come from? I don't know. It's just common sense and the league looked at it and felt he didn't deserve it and took care of it."
Along with his original instigator penalty, Chara was given a fighting major and a game misconduct. Teammate Miroslav Satan was handed a roughing penalty and a 10-minute misconduct. The Sabres' Ryan Miller was called for leaving the crease, Gaustad was given a slashing penalty and Cody McCormick was given a roughing and 10-minute misconduct. There was some thought that McCormick should have been given a third-man-in penalty.
"The one thing I'm not going to do is whine," said Julien. "There's enough going on as it is, so I'm not going to whine about all this stuff. We can take care of ourselves. This is our team and we stand up for ourselves and we put up with what happens. I don't think there's any reason to start crying wolf. We'll go out there and do our job and let our play dictate what's going on."
It's been obvious in this series, especially when the Sabres were down 3-1, that Ruff was pulling out all the desperation tactics to get his players fired up. He called out Bruins forward Vladimir Sobotka for "ducking checks" and he's complained about the way Boston has been playing.
Julien said he doesn't pay too much attention to the opposition's remarks.
"Not really," said Julien. "I've heard and read Lindy's comments and hopefully it's his way of taking the pressure off his team, because if not, then it's a lot of whining. It's as simple as that. Every coach has his tactics and you just worry about yourself. Like I said [Friday] night, we seem to be the team that's always doing the bad things, and they seem to be the team that's on the nice side of all that stuff and they do nothing wrong."
The Bruins were given Saturday off with only Marc Savard skating at TD Garden as he continues his comeback from a Grade 2 concussion. In fact, both teams have two days off before the pivotal Game 6 here on Monday night. It will be welcomed by everyone.
"It will certainly give both teams an opportunity to recover and more than likely make for an even more exciting Game 6," said Julien. "It gives us the opportunity, and we've been in a battle now for over a month just to get into the playoffs. Every game meant a lot, so anytime you get a little extra time it's always useful for your hockey club."
Boychuk was one of only a few players who came to work Saturday morning after sleeping in.
"Of course it will help," he said of the two-day break from games. "It will help both teams because some guys have bumps and bruises and it'll help having an extra day off in between."
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.
Claude Julien says he wasn't surprised Zdeno Chara didn't draw a suspension.