BOSTON – Yesterday, Mike Murphy, NHL Vice President of Hockey Operations, made it clear to both teams that the post whistle finger taunting – as seen in the last two games from both the Vancouver Canucks (Maxim Lapierre in Game 2) and Boston Bruins (Mark Recchi, Milan Lucic in Game 3 – nor biting itself (aka Alex Burrows-Patrice Bergeron in Game 1), won’t be tolerated any longer. Failure to comply will result in a 2-minute penalty and a 10-minute game misconduct.
Murphy spoke about the incident yesterday at Walter Brown Arena on the Campus of Boston University; the same day he announced that Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome would be suspended for the rest of the series after his hit on Bruins forward Nathan Horton at 5:07 of the first period in Game 3.
“We’ve addressed it with the teams as early as this morning,” Murphy said in his session with the media. “I will be speaking with both General Managers before this day is over about this crap that we’re seeing, the garbage that is going on and some of the other issues.”
Indeed this “crap” that Murphy talked about (i.e. the finger biting and finger taunting) has taken over as the top storyline during this series. Perhaps if Burrows was suspended for a game then this discussion might not have blown up to this magnitude. And perhaps the taunts from Lapierre, Recchi and Lucic both Rome’s hit to Horton and the taunts from Lapierre, Lucic and Recchi might have been avoided, too. But that’s obviously something that no one will know other than hearsay.
Now that we have reached the aftermath, both teams should expect the officials to call things a little more tightly the rest of the way. But that doesn’t mean that either team won’t be physical, even after the stoppage of play.
“I think the stuff between the whistle is still going to happen,” Bruins forward Rich Peverley said. “The guys are emotional and if they start cracking down on it then I think guys might start backing off a little bit. But it’s part of the game and hopefully going into tonight there isn’t too many emotions or things get out of hand.
“They’ve been very physical and we’ve been physical. And you can still play between the whistles.”
Although the Bruins had the advantage in a chippy Game 3, the Canucks can certainly throw their weight around too and will look to do so after their 8-1 loss on Monday.
“We have the ability to play that game too,” Canucks forward Manny Malhotra said. “Our focus is going to be more on playing fast and playing with the puck. But if it gets chippy, we have the ability to play that game too.”
Certainly, the Bruins expect the Canucks to raise their compete level and take a 3-1 series lead in Game 4. And certainly, it’s rare that an 8-1 win occurs during the hockey season, let alone the Stanley Cup Finals.
However, the Black and Gold will obviously want to avoid going down 3-1 and, in the process, give the Canucks a chance to clinch the series – and their first Stanley Cup in franchise history – in Game 5 Saturday night in Vancouver.
“We’re going to try, but those games [like Game 3] are very rare,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. “But we have to put the same effort forward and just hope for a good result.”
This post also appeared on Inside Hockey