Bruins and Canucks are trading shots on and off the ice
Reporting from Boston
The Stanley Cup finals have begun to seem more like a kindergarten spat than the NHL’s showcase event.
If Vancouver Canucks forward Alex Burrows’ finger-chomping, both teams’ taunting and diving and defenseman Aaron Rome’s illegal hit on Boston Bruins forward Nathan Horton in Game 3 were not enough to leave a sour taste, then Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo took the animosity to a new level.
After the Canucks’ 1-0 victory Friday in Vancouver, which put them in position to win the Cup on Monday at TD Garden, Luongo said the Maxim Lapierre goal that eluded Boston netminder Tim Thomas “is an easy save for me, but if you’re wandering out and aggressive like he does, that’s going to happen.” On Saturday, Luongo complained that Thomas had not shown him any respect.
“I’ve been pumping his tires since the series started, and I haven’t heard one nice thing he’s had to say about me,” Luongo told reporters before the team’s flight to Boston.
Bruins Coach Claude Julien said the media are making more of this than Thomas will, but he strongly defended his goalie.
“He’s given up six goals in five games. The guy that made the comment, I’m not quite sure how many he let in,” Julien said. “I think you guys have a good idea, so I don’t think he’s going to lose sleep over that.”
Luongo has given up 14 goals in five games, including 12 while losing Games 3 and 4 at Boston.
The Canucks’ antics, including Lapierre’s theatrics after a mild poke to his ribs from Boston’s Zdeno Chara in Game 5, have given the Canucks a sort of outlaw image in the hockey world. They don’t mind.
“Well, I don’t know,” defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. “At the same time, who really cares about what the guys are tweeting and stuff like that? If I was on my summer vacation, I wouldn’t be tweeting right now about the Stanley Cup finals, I’d be enjoying it. Consider the sources.”
The Bruins, who hope to extend the finals to a seventh game at Vancouver on Wednesday, are facing elimination for the third time this postseason. They went to seven games against the Montreal Canadiens in the first round and seven against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals.
Forward Brad Marchand said the thought of seeing the Canucks win the Cup in Boston is motivation for the Bruins to get their legs going and play better than they did Friday.
“We want to be the ones to lift the Cup. We want to fight as hard as we possibly can to make sure that happens,” he said. “We know that if that’s going to happen, we have to win the next game.”
Defenseman Andrew Ference said the key to success for the Bruins in Game 6 isn’t about “having any magic potion or anything like that. It’s just about doing the job that you have been practicing the whole year to do.”
Canucks Coach Alain Vigneault said his players aren’t likely to be looking too far ahead, even with the Cup being polished for possible presentation Monday.
“I think we’ve got a very mature group, a group that set out at the beginning of training camp to win the Stanley Cup. We weren’t shy about talking about what our goals were,” he said. “Now we’ve got an opportunity on Monday to achieve that goal. Until that’s done, everybody’s real focused on the task at hand.”
The team that has scored the first goal has won each game of this series, and the home team has won every game. This is the third consecutive year that home teams have gone at least 5-0 in the finals.
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