Paoletti: B's deliver a body blow to Canucks

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Paoletti: B's deliver a body blow to Canucks

By MaryPaoletti
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Ask the Bruins about a successful night and you often get some version of the same answer: "We played our game."

Theirs is a bruising, efficient style. But in the last two games of the Stanley Cup Finals, it's been just as important to take Vancouver out of its own game. And they have.

The Canucks will limp home Friday, the series tied 2-2, after rolling out of the gate with two decisive wins.

How? How has Boston dismantled such an explosive Vancouver offense to create a 12-1 goal differential?

Simple. They've played their game with punishing physicality.

"That was our plan: take time and space away," said Dennis Seidenberg. "That's all it takes for guys to turn the puck over, to not be able to create plays. We tried to keep a tight gap on those guys, play them tough and not let them look for passes or plays. It's a whole team game. We did a good job with it."

That might be an understatement.

Boston set the tone from the start. Vancouver's Ryan Kesler tripped Patrice Bergeron on the opening faceoff. Reset. On the second drop, Kesler tried a cross-check, but Bergeron didn't bite and won the draw back to Tim Thomas. Even the subsequent attempt to train Bergeron at the blueline backfired, as Kesler was the one who hit the ice.

Kesler's failings are huge for the Bruins.

The Canucks center had four assists and a plus-two rating in the first round. In the second, he registered five goals (all on the power play, two game-winners) and six assists (one shorthanded). Three more points were tallied in the third round.

He's since been caged.

Kesler's frustration with one point in four games boiled over Wednesday night. Though struggling with some degree of a groin injury, his ineffectiveness was catalyzed by the Bruins and he snapped.

With over nine minutes left in the period, Boston up 4-0, Kesler slashed Adam McQuaid well after a whistle. It was a pointless act; there was nothing to be gained except a penalty. Kesler went to the box, perspective reduced to spite.

The Bruins, on the other hand, seem to be seeing clearly.

"Kesler might be hurting but I think adrenaline will take over for him," said Daniel Paille. "He's obviously going to respond after these last two games, not just him but their whole team. It's definitely something to focus on, not just Kesler but try to maintain a physical presence on everyone."

Like the Sedin twins.

Daniel and Henrik Sedin were billed as one of Boston's biggest threats. It was no joke. Henrik won the Hart Trophy in 2010 and followed the honor up with 94 points this year. Daniel is a Hart finalist this season with a league-leading 104 points. In the 18 playoff games before meeting the Bruins, Daniel registered 16 points; Henrik, 21.

Things have quieted some.

Henrik's Game 4 shot on goal was his first of the series. Daniel? Zero points in the last two contests. The Bruins have rendered the pair impotent both on their prized power play (Vancouver is 1-for-18 in the finals) and even strength.

During the first period, Henrik tried to bother Thomas by dropping into the blue paint. Zdeno Chara shoved and rolled Sedin violently out of the crease -- twice.

Later, Brad Marchand came off the bench and bumped Henrik before lining up against him for a face-off. Marchand quickly drilled Sedin on the leg. He lost the draw but made his point: Wherever you go, I'll be there. And you're not going to like it.

The Canucks were pestered, taunted and bullied off the puck all night -- exactly as Boston planned.

"Every game we've played so far, one team has been a lot more physical than the other and it just seems those teams come out on top," Marchand said. "They seemed to try to run us out of the rink the first couple games and they did a great job at that, they seemed to build off that emotion. When we're in our home building we feed off our fans and it makes it a little easier to play."

Even Thomas got in on the action.

In the final minutes, Boston's netminder slashed Alex Burrows on the leg. The move sparked a brief scrum and Thomas' helmet flew off in the fray. But it was retribution. The Canucks had been knocking the butt-end of Thomas' stick all the night so when Burrows chopped him for the third time that play, well, enough was enough.

"I thought I'd give him a little love tap and let him know, I know what you're doing, but I'm not going to let you do it forever," Thomas said.

Take away Vancouver's game and they win. Take away time and space and the Canucks will pay physically and on the scoreboard.

That's Boston's game. And when they play that way? They win.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Morning Skate: No surprise cheap-shot artists are running wild

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Morning Skate: No surprise cheap-shot artists are running wild

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while hoping everybody on this Memorial Day takes some time to appreciate all of those that made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. We should also take a moment to say thanks to people like the three heroes in Oregon that stood up to a hateful bigot earlier this week, and in doing so reaffirmed what the majority of people living in the US believe we are all about while trying to live up to that ideal every day.
 
-- A number of NHL legends are shaking their heads at the dirty play that we’re seeing in these playoffs, particularly those plays targeting the superstars that people pay big money to see in the postseason. Why should anybody be shocked by this? The rooting out of enforcers, and fighting, has taken accountability out of the game for the cheap-shot artists and dirty players, and leaves little real deterrant for players looking to take out opponents with dangerous plays. I wrote about this a couple of years ago when the NHL threw the book at Shawn Thornton for going after Brooks Orpik, and in doing so chose to protect somebody trying to hurt opponents (Orpik) and punish somebody trying to protect his teammates (Thornton). It was a sea change for the league, and something players didn’t forget as more and more enforcers were quickly weeded out of the NHL. This is what the rule-makers and legislators wanted, and now it’s what they’re getting just a couple of years later with dangerous stick-work, cheap shots and a general lack of respect for fellow players.
 
-- Here's why the Tampa Bay Lightning would consider trading a player like Jonathan Drouin, and the major impact that could have on the offseason trade market.
 
-- Down Goes Brown has a Stanley Cup Final rooting guide for the other 28 other fan bases now that Nashville and Pittsburgh are in the final series.

-- So which goaltender has the edge in the Stanley Cup Final: Nashville's Pekka Rinne, or Pittsburgh's two-headed monster of Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury?
 
-- Scotty Bowman says winning back-to-back Stanley Cup titles has become monumentally difficult since the advent of the salary cap.
 
-- Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are pushing each other to be betters, and showing exactly how a team should be led by its superstars in the salary-cap era for the league.
 
-- For something completely different: We can confirm through this report that a lot of hot dogs are eaten in the summertime. So glad we have people to research these kinds of things.
 

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.