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Public Enemy Number One


Jason Chen

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I was lucky enough to attend last night's game and after Shane O'Brien's weak holding penalty a fan sitting in front of me stood up and yelled, "where's Gary Bettman?" If that didn't sum up the game, I don't know what did. A disappointing 5-2 loss puts the Canucks behind 2-1 in the series, but perhaps more concerning was the way the Canucks handled themselves.

Some believe the loss can be attributed to the Canucks' more physical play, but I don't think that was it. I don't think it was the Hawks that got under the Sedins' skin either. I think, quite simply, the Canucks just didn't have an answer to big Dustin Byfuglien (with a name like that it still baffles me how it's pronounced "BUFF-lin"). Credit to Byfuglien though, Vancouver's new public enemy number one, especially after he pretty much flipped off the crowd after scoring a goal, for realizing how hated he is in Vancouver and totally embracing the role. No player on Vancouver's roster could match Byfuglien's physicality and the fact that he played with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews certainly created some room for him. While he definitely was a huge factor for the Hawks' win, the referees certainly were THE factor.

I have never ever seen or been to a game where officiating has been this bad. Let's call a spade a spade - had the game been called more fairly the game would've been closer, or even produced a different outcome. Alain Vigneault side-stepped questions about the officiating, and on one hand I understand that 1) he doesn't want to get fined, and 2) he's not going to make any excuses for his team. But it's times like these where I wish players and coaches were given more free reign to sound off. By fining and reprimanding players there's zero accountability with the league and its officials (the Stephane Auger incident was sort of swept under the rug) and I don't need to remind everyone that the discipline office is anything but. The league, refs, and Bettman sit nice and smug on their little high chair and when someone speaks up against them they're quick to punish them.

<img src="http://d.yimg.com/a/p/sp/getty/c5/fullj.0d17be1458e00e6d3c1de2fd186c3cb2/0d17be1458e00e6d3c1de2fd186c3cb2-getty-98501666rl20_kings_canucks.jpg"class="imageFloatLeftFramed">The only player that I thought could have the same effect Byfuglien had on Roberto Luongo (who had a so-so night - he fought to control the rebounds all night and cost him the second goal) was Steve Bernier. After logging close to five minutes in the opening period with a couple of strong shifts with Kyle Wellwood, I thought he was going to score a goal for sure, after all, I was wearing his jersey that night. But alas, Big Steve found himself in Vigneault's dog house again, and had just one shift in the second and just another 2:18 in the final period for a grand total of 7:36 of ice-time that night. I am a little baffled, and I do know better than to question one of the league's best bench bosses and a former Jack Adams winner, but physicality and size was obviously something that was missing in the game and I felt Bernier could've really at least made the night a little harder to bear for Antti Niemi. Bernier's not known to be a good skater or good puck-handler and did have some trouble getting the puck out of his own zone, but I don't think he was alone that night in that department.

Alex Burrows finally lit the lamp and a lot of people criticized him for his unnecessary penalties, especially the one on Brian Campbell. Burrows has been playing well and he's finally getting the bounces. Unfortunately, even though his goal could've provided a big momentum shift, it clearly wasn't the case as the Canucks came out flat in the third and Marian Hossa made them pay. Speaking of coming out flat, whatever happened to Pavol Demitra, the Slovakian Superman? Ask him to play for his country and he's suddenly one of the world's top players, but ask him to play in a pressure-packed situation at home against a rival and he decides not to show up. He was barely visible on the ice last night except for a lazy penalty in the first.

It's a little concerning to watch the team squander a 2-0 lead and then take a 5-2 loss, and some wonder if the mental fortitude that escaped the Canucks last year is escaping them again this year. Daniel Sedin in particular was rattled by the mouthy Dave Bolland. Kudos for O'Brien and Burrows stepping in and I forgive them for the misconducts, because let's face it, the game was long lost at that point and those two seemed to be the only players that were doing something about the harassment the Sedins were getting.

Game Four is at GM Place and expect the Canucks to come out flying. How the Canucks handle themselves in that game will really tell us what sort of team we have.

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There are few things in life more predictable than Canucks fans whining about the intergalactic anti-Vancouver refereeing conspiracy every time the team gets outplayed and completely loses its cool and the game.

NHL hockey is a man's game and I'm sure the Sedins realize it. Burrows acting tuff (when the opponent's back is turned and he's being bear-hugged by a Canuck) is, I'm sure, a tremendous source of amusement for the Blackhawks and their fans.

About the only thing the Canucks can take out of this game is the fact they're only down 2-1.

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You're right, alldownhillaftertallon, the Canucks are probably one of the most mouthy teams in the league and their fans are just as passionate. Adam Burish calling the Canucks' O'Brien and Burrows "clowns" certainly isn't unwarranted, although his criticism of them going after their skill players could also be used on Bolland. Perhaps only this time and the Auger incident have I really been critical of the refs, but how any player can push a goalie into the net and then legally score is beyond me.

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This is a complete joke again for tonight's game! The officiating was just horrible sequal from Game 3.

Luongo wasn't sharp for the whole evening and our defense basically just shattered after Toews quick goal; therefore, it was a complete collapse for Canucks! Again, Canucks played a good first periods with some obvious changes in their tactics, using their speed and good body checks; however, they just lost it at some point!

I wasn't a big fan of conspiracy theory, but I am starting to believe in it.

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Jason,

Exactly which calls do you feel were not justified?? Why don't you talk about the NON-CALLS?

How about that goon Burrows crosscheck to Buff's neck while he was down on the ice in front of

7oungo? Granted, the nucks got a delay of game penalty on that play. But it should have been 2 minors called.

You must have been watching a different game than I was. Seems like you are blaming your team shooting themselves in the foot through complete lack of discipline on the officiating. They have no one to blame but themselves!

I'm not here to troll or put anybody down. i think that the canucks are a good team. They might not be in the hole they are in had they played their game in all 4 games, not just game 1.

When did your public enemy #1 (Buff) "flip off the fans?" What I saw at the end of game 3 was a canuck fan giving Buff the finger. If you don't believe it, go to the Hawks Blog GDT for game 3. One of the Mods posted a screen cap of it. Good luck Sun. night in game 5.

I hope the canucks come to play hockey, not the WWF-style from last night. I would enjoy seeing a good game. If they try to goon it up again, maybe the nucks would enjoy some golf down here in Florida. Weather is sunny and temps in upper 80's.

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I'm liking the amount of Hawks fans Canucks.com has attracted.

There have been a lot of non-calls on both sides. Calls that should've been made weren't made and calls that shouldn't have been made were made. It was a two-way street.

The Canucks do deserve a lot of the blame, especially after game four. It's quite obvious (especially at this point) that this Canucks team lacks the overall skill and mental fortitude to win the series. If you could really point to one particular thing, it was just how the Canucks responded to the officiating and Byfuglien. Like I said, the Canucks just don't have an answer to anything the Hawks throw at them. Special teams has been woeful and I don't know if they can blame anybody but themselves. 15+ PPG allowed is simply unacceptable.

I wrote he "pretty much flipped off the crowd." I didn't say he gave the fans the finger, but he might as well have. His little skate-by drew the ire of fans and a couple of beer cups and towels were thrown at him. Whether or not he flipped the finger is quite irrelevant - it would've drawn the same reaction. Even CBC commented that it was a "giant misstep."

I don't like the way the Canucks have played all series. They responded poorly and carried themselves in a way that is quite foreign to them and the fans. Even if they lose the series (which I think they will) I would at least like to see a different type of effort put out there.

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