Canucks don't consider themselves villains

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Canucks don't consider themselves villains

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By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON Apparently its news to the Vancouver Canucks that theyre flopping and diving their way through the Stanley Cup Final as the unquestioned villains in the typically hard core hockey series.

While its always been a grudge match when hockey clubs get within four games of raising the Cup over their heads, Vancouver has bitten, clawed, gouged, faked, flopped and cheap-shotted their way to a 3-2 lead over the Bruins in the finals headed into Monday nights potentially decisive Game 6 at TD Garden.

Theres little question the Canucks have played well at home, but they still havent been nearly as overpowering as their talent would have indicated headed into the series against the Bruins. That lower level of execution -- in areas like a 1-for-22 power play and only two points from the Sedin twins in the series -- has forced a handful of Canucks to operate outside the lines of acceptable behavior in the Cup Final while performing in front of a national audience. Their actions have led many to attach to the Canucks the label of most hated team in hockey.

The Bruins werent going there.

Sometimes guys are trying to play the head games and you just cant worry about that, said Patrice Bergeron. Its part of the sport. You just have to worry about what you can control.

The Bruins certainly havent been angels either. Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic attempted to jam their fingers into the face of Maxim Lapierre and Alex Burrows -- but nearly every single Bs action has been a reaction to the Canucks.

Burrows has been one of the key offenders dating all the way back to he gnawed on Bergerons gloved index finger in Game 1. He didn't do anything for his reputation in Boston when he dove on a face-off in Game 5 that led to an embellishment call.

The Canucks troublemaker bristled at being called hated or a villain during the Cup Final, but if the tag fits, youve got to wear it.

I could care less, to be honest with you. Were one win away from achieving our goal and we just want to go out tomorrow night and get it, said Burrows, who has been very good in the series, including a three-point game in a 3-2 Game 2 victory in Vancouver. Who says that? I dont know where that comes from, honestly, so its tough for me to comment on.

I know we have a lot of good fans in Vancouver, and thats all that we care about. Its not my mindset to rub it in on anybody. Its just my mission to get in there and get ready to play while trying to win it tomorrow night.

While it's impossible to prove the Canucks are the most hated, and probably a bit hyperbolic given some of the truly bad eggs that have won the Stanley Cup in the history of the NHLs playoffs, there is clearly an anti-Canucks sentiment brewing in the hockey community that goes way, way beyond Bostons natural dislike for their Stanley Cup rivals.

There is something there, but Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa is clearly not feeling it, seeing it or acknowledging it. In fact, in Bieksas whimsical world, the entire nation of Canada is pulling for the Canucks against the Boston Bruins despite many protestations from hockey fans across Canada.

I dont think were in the villain role. I really dont, said Bieksa. There are a few people that dont like the way we play, but usually when you win people dont like that. I know when we played Chicago last year I dont remember too many people saying anything nice about them but Im pretty sure if you asked them they couldnt care less.

We dont feel like villains. We feel like we have all of Canada cheering for us and thats an entire country. So how can you be a villain when a whole country is cheering for you?

Perhaps someone should break it to Bieksa that there are large contingents in Calgary and Edmonton that definitely are not pulling for the Canucks, and plenty across Canada in every NHL outpost that dont respect the way Vancouver has behaved on the games biggest stage. Its a fallacy to begin with that all of Canada suddenly drops allegiances and begins blindly cheering for whatever Great White North team manages to drag themselves into the final seven game series.

Clearly Bieksa and Burrows are correct when they say that nobody likes a favorite in a series like the Cup Final, and that was Vancouvers fate against the Bruins.

But theres a veritable chasm between being a favorite and being a villain, and its something Vancouver wont be able to escape after some truly suspect actions in their first Cup go-round.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want. 

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

It was the longest run that the P-Bruins have had in a few years and another unmistakable sign that the future is brightening for the Black and Gold, but the Bruins AHL affiliate has ended their playoff push in the Calder Cup semi-finals. 

The Providence Bruins fell by a 3-1 score to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday night to lose to the Crunch in five games when the best-of-seven series was set to return to Providence this coming week. The P-Bruins had vanquished the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears in the first two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs before finally exiting against Syracuse. 

Though it’s over, it’s clear some of the Bruins prospects made a nice step forward over the second half of the AHL season and then into the Calder Cup playoffs. With the Calder Cup Finals yet to start, B’s forward prospect Danton Heinen stands as the second-leading playoff scorer in the entire AHL with nine goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games after really struggling in the first half of his first pro season while bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the AHL. 

This could bode well for the skilled Heinen and his hopes to make the leap to the NHL in the near future after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Denver. AHL journeymen-types Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz were the next two top scorers for the P-Bruins in the playoff run, but Jake DeBrusk had a strong playoff season as well while popping in six goals in 17 games. DeBrusk led all Providence players with his 54 shots on net in the 17-game playoff run for Providence, and he headlined a group that included B’s prospects Ryan Fitzgerald, Zach Senyshyn, Matt Grzelcyk, Peter Cehlarik (who succumbed to shoulder surgery during the playoffs), Emil Johansson and Robbie O’Gara all getting some vital playoff experience. 

Both Heinen and DeBrusk will be strong candidates for jobs on the wing with the Boston big club when training camp opens in the fall after strong showings in the postseason. 

On the goaltending side, Zane McIntyre was solid for the P-Bruins at times while in 16 of their 17 playoff games with a .906 save percentage. But it was Malcolm Subban that was playing at the very end of the playoff run for Providence and featured a sterling .937 save percentage in the four AHL playoff games that he appeared in this spring after an up-and-down regular season. McIntyre had an .857 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average in the final series against Syracuse, and looked a little spent like many of the other P-Bruins players once they’d unexpectedly made it to the third round of the AHL postseason.  

The only unfortunate part of Providence’s run is that newly signed youngsters Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson couldn’t be a part of it after signing and then appearing in NHL games following a cut-off date for AHL playoff rosters. Both missed on an experience that could have been very conducive for their professional development, and uncovered a wrinkle in the NHL/AHL transaction process that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a developmental league.