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The 'Villains' Look To Regain Control Of Series



If there wasn't a Boston-Vancouver rivalry before, I think it's safe to say we have one now. I find it quite laughable that the Canucks are now looked upon as the bad guys. I realize that most Americans are somewhat new to Hockey, but you don't have to be Scotty Bowman to see what's happening out there on the ice. (To you Americans, he's widely regarded as the Einstein of Hockey, winning several Cups with Montreal and Detroit) The simple fact is that Boston CANNOT win this series unless they take it into the trenches, the back alleys, the boxing ring. Pick your metaphor. The Bruins do not have enough skilled players to be able to compete with the Sedins or the speed to keep up with Raymond, Hansen and Kesler (when he's healthy). In other words, if Zdeno Chara does not turn into the second-coming of Ogie Oglethorpe (might want to Google that Bruins' fans), Henrik will be hoisting the Cup and Patrice Bergeron will be forever known as the guy who stuck his gloved hand into a player's mouth and then whined about getting bit.

If you watched Oglethorpe, excuse me Chara, in game 3 you would know what I am talking about. I wish I had recorded it so I could watch it back, but I think it's a pretty safe bet to say that there wasn't one shift that he took where he couldn't have gotten a penalty. If he doesn't hack, wack, slash, hold, grab, spear and punch the Sedins then the party is over. The fact that he isn't going to the box and feeling shame is just a bonus for Boston. That being said, if the Canucks don't get their power play back on track to at least try to keep the Bruins honest, then they are their own worst enemy. The bigger Vancouver's power play fails, the more liberties Boston are likely to take.

Wow. Two whole paragraphs and I haven't even brought up the Aaron Rome hit on Nathan Horton. For those of you that think it was an intent to injure, you are clearly delusional. The Canucks were up 2-0 in the series and looking to take a stranglehold. Do you really think early in the first period of game 3 that they would want any part of that? Not to mention that Aaron Rome is not and never has been that type of player. He was on the receiving end of a dirty hit against San Jose that gave him a concussion, no suspension on that play. (Had to throw that in there, sorry.) Was it a penalty? Yes. From the moment he passed off the puck to the moment of contact it was slightly less than one second. The NHL allows a half second. So it was late, no question. There are people in Boston calling Rome a 'felon' and that he'should never play again'. He didn't leave his feet, didn't target the head, and it obviously wasn't a blindside. Mike Murphy even said all of these things. What it really boils down to is two things. The fact that Horton was sent off on a stretcher and likely won't be back in this series, and the fact that Rome is not one of Vancouver's star players. If Kesler had hit Horton, or for that matter if Horton had hit Rome like that, there would be no suspension. I'm disappointed that Rome was given a suspension at all. But 4 games? 4 times more than any other player in Stanley Cup Final history? If I wasn't laughing so hard at the ridiculousness of the NHL in making this decision I would be outraged.

But now the NHL has painted itself into a corner. This is every hockey writer in Vancouver's wet dream (and probably the one writer in Boston that occasionally covers Hockey too!) But I'd guess that it's about to get better. That 4 game suspension will have caught the attention of every player in the NHL, and yes Boston players too. Even those fishing and golfing will have at least looked up the hit on Youtube. Because now there is a risk for every player in the league of being banished for a Stanley Cup final. Okay, let's be honest. Daniel and Henrik probably aren't going to attempt to stand a guy up at the blue line so they are probably okay. But virtually everyone else is in danger of being ejected from the SCF because they hit a guy less than a half second late. When I say that it's about to get better, I mean that there will likely be a much worse hit in this series and most likely from the Bruins. Let's say it's Chara or Lucic. Not too far-fetched I don't think. If it's the same hit or worse, will there be a suspension? Well, we will likely find out. But I wouldn't bet on it.

Did that hit on Horton cost Vancouver the game? Probably. The Canucks did kill the 5 minute penalty but going down to 5 defencemen that early in a game is tough. They beat Boston with 5 D in game one but they had Hamhuis and he makes a big difference. I think Alberts played half decent with the extra minutes but he's no Dan Hamhuis. I really don't care if the score was 2-1 or 8-1. It was a 4-0 game going into the 3rd and the Canucks were trying to get back into it. That's when you are likely to give up goals. No point sitting back and preserving a 4-0 loss. But it makes for a good story, and when you need to write a story a day about Hockey, then you go with it.

I was actually thinking about apologizing to AV for all the negative things I've said about him in the past (not until they win 2 more games however), but now I have to say he was outcoached in game 3. I think the third goal (the first short-handed goal) was the back-breaker, but they still had a minute left on their power play. Call a timeout and rest the 1st unit so they can stay out there. If they get that next goal a comeback is a possibility. As a coach you have to find a way to win. Joel Quenneville did just that in the first round and almost pulled the upset. As far as Luongo goes, (and don't get me wrong, I've always been a big supporter of Roberto) you don't ask him if he wants to come out. You are the coach. Once he sees Schneider heading his way he will come out. I'm not really concerned about him getting lit up for 8 goals, but it would give Schneider a bit of work. You know if Luongo plays lights out again, which I expect, then he is likely to get run over 'accidentally' by one of those Bruins. We may still need Schneider at some point before all is said and done.

So how does Vancouver turn this around and go home with a chance to wrap it up? They need to get back to playing their style of Hockey. I hear the ice in Boston is horrible, which favors the less-skilled, slower Bruin team, so they will have to fight through that. They need to move the puck on their power play and they need to find a way to beat Boston's best penalty killer, Thomas. I imagine Vigneault saw this Boston freight train coming. Why try to get in front of it? Let it pass and concentrate on playing hockey like the villains we are, and that baby is going to derail.


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