Canucks don't consider themselves villains


Canucks don't consider themselves villains

By Joe Haggerty 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 Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Friday, Oct. 21: Pee-wee push-ups draw coach’s punishment


Friday, Oct. 21: Pee-wee push-ups draw coach’s punishment

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while anxiously awaiting a Cleveland/Chicago Cubs World Series showdown with all of the Red Sox subplots that could be involved.

*A peewee hockey coach in Quebec has been given a season-long suspension for punishing his players with hundreds of push-ups.

*The NHL game has changed radically over the last 11 years as Henrik Lundqvist has been a fixture for the New York Rangers.

*A lot has changed since Jaromir Jagr scored his first goal in 1990 and this article is worth it for the Jagr mullet picture alone.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough says that a healthy Brandon Sutter has been a difference-maker for the Canucks.

*Carey Price is back in net for the Montreal Canadiens, and that makes the Habs a new team as they prepare for the Bruins on Saturday.

*This is what it looks like when you’ve completely given up on just about everything else except for being a hockey fan. So very gross.

*For something completely different: The Doctor Strange cast is being forced into answering some tough questions at the premiere of what is essentially a comic book movie.



Rask status in question vs. Canadiens with ‘general soreness’


Rask status in question vs. Canadiens with ‘general soreness’

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Tuukka Rask has been outstanding through his first three games this season after stumbling out of the gate last year. The .947 save percentage and sub 2.00 GAA are all the more impressive for Rask when also accounting for a lower body issue that’s been nagging at him since the opening night win a little more than a week ago.

Rask stopped 28 of 29 shots against the New Jersey Devils Thursday night in a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden, but it was also clear on a couple of stops that he was feeling discomfort in his lower half as he extended into the full butterfly. 

That was confirmed by Rask following the win when he admitted he was dealing with “something” after the game, and by his absence from the practice ice at Warrior Ice Arena on Friday morning.

“Uh-huh. There’s always a little something-something,” said a smirking Rask, when asked if he’s playing through something physically.

Instead, Babson College goalie coach Mike Ronan was called into emergency duty, and took the practice ice along with Bruins backup netminder Anton Khudobin.

Claude Julien said following practice that Rask was dealing with the same “general soreness” that last week pushed him out of a scheduled start against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it’s uncertain whether he will make the start against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

“The general soreness he had last week is still there,” said Julien. “[The medical staff] will see tomorrow how he's doing.”

Rask also missed a Bruins practice with soreness last Friday in Toronto, and wasn’t able to play the next night in the loss to the Maple Leafs. Injuries aside, Rask has been brilliant against both New Jersey and Winnipeg and was solid over the final 40 minutes against the Blue Jackets in an opening night win to start the season.

“Tuukka was outstanding in Winnipeg and he was good again [vs. New Jersey],” said Julien. “So, there are no issues with Tuukka. I think he’s giving us the hockey and the goaltending that we are looking for.”

Well, maybe there is one slight “issue with Tuukka” if a nagging lower body issue starts keeping him out of Bruins games and practices on the regular.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings at Friday practice:









Liles-C. Miller