BOSTON –There was no shortage of bad blood left over from last season in Saturday’s Stanley Cup Finals rematch between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks.
The two teams combined for 107 penalty minutes — 55 for Boston and 52 for Vancouver — with four fighting majors and misconduct’s and two ejections handed to Milan Lucic (at 3:54 of the first period for leaving the bench during a line brawl in front of the Canucks’ bench) and Brad Marchand (for clipping Sami Salo at 18:47 of the second) — both of whom could be facing suspensions for their incidents.
The officiating was questionable at best, but the Canucks capitalized on their opportunities going 4-for-11 on the power play (from Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, Henrik Sedin and Cody Hodgson), while the Bruins went 0-for-7. As a result, the defending Western Conference champions got a bit of revenge with a 4-3 victory in front of the 106th straight sellout crowd of 17,565 at the TD Garden.
“I think that was the blueprint from the finals last year, was to make them pay on the power play and we weren’t able to do that,” said Canucks goalie Cory Schneider , who got the start in his hometown in place of Roberto Luongo Saturday. “I think this time around we made them pay for going to the box so much.”
Channeling his inner Bill Belichick, head coach Claude Julien thought his team was behind the eight-ball with Lucic and Marchand kicked out of the game.
“We had some pretty big obstacles to overcome, and some if it was losing two real good players out of your lineup and having a short bench,” he said. “That didn’t help, but having said that, had we stayed out of the box, and not given them the power plays that we gave them, I really felt — 5-on-5 — that we controlled the play.
“It was what it was,” Julien continued. “Let’s not kid ourselves here: These are two teams that don’t like each other so what do you expect? I think the build up from last game was still there, but…it was only a two-point game and that’s how we had to approach it. There’s a lot that happened in the playoffs last year that carried over to today’s game and as much as the referees tried to control it, at times, it became a challenge.”
Marchand’s and Lucic’s ejections didn’t help things for the Black and Gold, but neither did the misconducts handed out by both teams.
Emotions were certainly running high, no question. But when it mattered most, the Canucks took advantage of their opportunities, and the Bruins — including Daniel Paille’s missed attempt on a penalty shot early in the second period — didn’t.
“At certain times I thought our emotions got the best of us,” said forward Chris Kelly. “It was an emotional game on both sides, there’s no question about that. But I think we need to control our emotions a little better.”
“I felt we were pretty levelheaded, but obviously some things happened that sparked a little thing,” added Shawn Thornton, who was the centerpiece of that first period brawl before Lucic got ejected. “I mean, obviously with me it was that incident — I’m sure the league will look at it — but that’s what got it it going for me. I feel bad that we lost one of our best players after all that, but I guess that’s the end of it.”
Without Lucic, the Bruins had to adjust with 11 forwards and Julien had to double shift some of his roster.
Without Marchand — who scored the Bruins first goal at 14:57 of the first to tie the game at 1-1 — the Canucks made sure the five-minute power play went to waste with goals from Sedin (at 19:47 of the second to put his team ahead at 3-2) and Hodgson (1:09 into the third).
“We played hard but we’re a disciplined team. That’s what separates us from them,” said Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa while taking a verbal shot at the Bruins and Marchand.
“They obviously play hard, but they tend to do stupid things. The Marchand thing was a stupid thing and I’m sure he’ll be getting a phone call for that one. But we made them score two goals on that power play and that’s the game. He’s got to live with that.”
If anything, Saturday’s game — the only meeting between the two teams this year — proved that there’s still some unfinished business.