If everything ends up going horribly, horribly south in this year’s Stanley Cup finals—and, please, God, for the love of Trevor Linden and Richard Brodeur, don’t let it—the Vancouver Canucks will be defined by one fatal error. And, sorry, but that won’t be stubbornly starting Roberto Luongo in Boston for two games when he’d already made it abundantly clear he’d been possessed by the spirit of André “Red Light” Racicot.
Where the Canucks have blown it against the Boston Bruins is by forgetting the immortal words of Sean Connery in The Untouchables. In case you haven’t seen that classic on the grounds that you can’t stand violence in movies, his speech, which is all about getting even with Al Capone, goes like this: “And ”˜then’ what are you prepared to do? If you open the can on these worms you must be prepared to go all the way. Because they’re not gonna give up the fight, until one of you is dead. You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the ”˜Chicago’ way! And that’s how you get Capone. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that? I’m offering you a deal. Do you want this deal?”
How does a movie about Prohibition-era Chicago apply to the Vancouver Canucks, you might rightly ask? Well, there’s a time and a place to send one of theirs to the morgue, and that’s when you’re getting shit-kicked 8-1 in Game 3. Or getting whipped 4-0 in Game 4. Or, most egregiously of all, getting humiliated 5-2 in a Game 6 where the Boston Bruins literally did send a Canuck to the hospital.
How did Vancouver get even with Boston in an out-of-reach game where the Bruins’ Johnny Boychuk gave the Canucks’ Mason Raymond a vertebrae compression fracture by driving him backwards into the boards (without the puck, we might add)? Well, in numerous ways, actually. There was a grimacing Kevin Bieksa doing his best to break the stick of Dennis Seidenberg with the back of his leg. There was Alex Burrows allowing himself to be cross-checked into the next zip code by Patrice Bergeron after the whistle.
And, in what will be remembered as one of the most defining images of the series, there was Ratatouille look-alike Brad Marchand using Daniel Sedin’s head as a boxing-gym speedbag at the end of the game. (Adding a little Sifto salt in the wound this morning, Marchand explained that he just “felt like” punching Sedin in the head because he “was just there”.)
Vancouver’s response to all of this? In a display that would have warmed the cockles of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s heart, the team did sweet fuck all. Evidently, Sedin thought he’d be better off hoping that the ref noticed what was going on. The referee did, giving Daniel a 10-minute misconduct for beating up Marchand’s gloves with his face.
What the fuck.
Had Tiger Williams or Gino Odjick been on the ice, Marchand would currently be one bed over from Raymond, drinking through a straw. The game was over, and that’s when you don’t play it cool. Instead you do something really fucking stupid to show the other guys there’s a serious price to be paid for taking liberties.
No one is suggesting that the Vancouver Canucks should have played like the ’75 Philadelphia Flyers in this series. Close games are for playing composed hockey and sucking up the cheap shots, hacks, slashes, and elbows, which have been nonstop from the Bruins in this series.
There’s also a time for getting even, and, while the Sedins might not be up for the job of delivering some payback time, Vancouver has plenty of players who are: Bieksa, Raffi Torres, Victor Oreskovich, Tanner Glass, and, hell, even Ryan Kesler come to mind. When you’re getting beaten on the scoreboard, that’s when you make up for all the little injustices of a game by doing something stupid in the alley. Preferably when Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara are sitting on the bench.
In the immortal words of Charlestown Chiefs’ coach Reggie Dunlop you “get that stick in their side, let ’em know you’re there! Put some fuckin’ lumber in their teeth, let ’em know you’re there.”
Instead, Vancouver completely blew three chances to send Boston a much-needed message in these Stanley Cup finals, slinking out of Beantown’s TD Garden completely humiliated. All that was lacking was Charlestown Chiefs’ general manager Joe McGrath storming into the dressing room at halftime and apoplectically describing the Canucks as a “bunch of pussies”.
Should, God willing, the score end up lopsided in Vancouver’s favour on Wednesday night, there’s some unfinished business to be taken of before this thing can be considered truly over. Let’s hope that Marchand gets exactly what’s coming to him, namely someone punching him in the head because, you know, he “was just there”.