Over the past two days, fans of the Bruins and Canucks had little to talk about. Well, except for “The Bite”. That was talked about ad nauseum. The video dissected like the Zapruder film. Through that all, Burrows revealed later, it was not that it bothered him, because he just ignores the media right now, but his parents. “My Dad sees and hears it all”, he said.
That reached another level tonight, but the first and still huge talking point was the return of Manny Malhotra from his horrible injury over two months ago. From not knowing if he would be able to save that eye, to being back on the ice, is simply wonderful, and transcends sports.
This game, the Bruins were a much better team than in Game 1. In that one, the goaltender was wonderful, and he was still really good tonight. But their team came to play much harder tonight. Physically, both teams were hitting at every opportunity ( Boston hit a lot in the first, but the Canucks outhit them for the game 40-31 ).
The Bruins played more aggressively, and the play went back and forth, with both goalies at their usual best. The Canucks speed was still better than the Bruins, and that led to the game’s first penalty when Kesler poked the puck through Chara’s skates. He interfered to prevent a chance, and the Canucks were on the power play. The first unit was actually checked quite well, but check the little plays here. Salo with a wonderful hold at the line, and Higgins a wonderfully deft handle of the puck to give Burrows the chance to shoot.
The period went back and forth, but the Canucks went to the room with the 1-0 lead, and a crowd buzzing. Not only the lead, but Malhotra had people loudly chanting his name (“MANNY,MANNY, MANNY!”)
It was from this time on that the NBC coverage went heavily into the partisan broadcast neighborhood. Their first period intermission was filled with disdain and complaints that Burrows should not be playing because of his little nibble in Game 1. Let me be clear, I am NOT condoning biting. But it was not much, relatively. Let’s just say if Nathan Horton can play in game 7 after throwing something at a fan, and score the game winner in that game, its only fair that Burrows avoid suspension for something that happened on the ice, that the other guy was probably partially at fault for by shoving his fingers in his mouth, and that resulted in no discernible injury.
It cannot all be on one guy, but the NBC commentators Milbury and Jones seemed to think so, building the Pincourt Quebec native up as the villain for sure.
The Eastern Conference Champs are a pretty good team as well though folks. The second period would be their best of the series. They were aggressive, they made better dump ins, and they turned the puck over less in the neutral zone.
They also got a huge break when a Bieksa clearing attempt clearly went off the glass, but was somehow thought to have not, and gave the Bruins an entirely free power play. They had good pressure, and forced Luongo into some saves, but were unable to break through to take advantage of the break.
They did become the team that was pushing the play, and they would be rewarded when Milan Lucic finally broke through by being in front, and using his strength to out muscle Ehrhoff to a rebound. A meat and potatoes goal, and a tied game.
The visitors may have gotten a break when Aaron Rome was given a pretty light holding call ( when they were letting far more go in that vein all night ) on Marchand, but they were not going to be denied. Perhaps it had something to do with taking Chara off the screening duties and back to the point. It was another goal though, and one that the goalie had no chance whatsoever on. Chara took a weak wrister, and though he was not credited, Seguin got the first tip before Recchi made a veteran play skating through to deflect it home, and give the Bruins an actual power play goal.
The Bruins were still aggressive, but not as much, and the Canucks pushed back with several great chances that Thomas sent back. So, when Aaron Rome was sent back to the penalty box for a abrely in the neighborhood interference call, the knowledgeable hockey fans of Vancouver were incensed. They knew this was a big moment of the game, and a huge chance for the Bruins.
They were unable to cash in in the last minute of the second, and not in the opening minute of the third. The penalty kill was very good on the decisive penalty, and had more chances than the visitors off of it, when all was said and done.
They also were able to draw a call of their own, when Lapierre almost got the puck by Seidenberg in the dying seconds of the man advantage. The Canucks could not cash in on their chance on special teams, but from that time on, it was mainly Canucks. Luongo had to make a couple good saves, but the Bruins only had 5 shots in the third, and it was mostly a period where the Bruins were in their own end. That led to this play. Again, Burrows was involved, making a slick pass to Daniel Sedin for the tying goal.
From then on, it was Tim Thomas to the rescue, preventing the winning goal being scored a few times. The Canucks used their speed and pushed forward, and if Thomas does not do his thing, the Bruins would have lost in regulation.
So, Stanley Cup Final overtime. What could be better right? With these two goalies, we’ll be here all night!
Ummm, no. The Canucks sent out the first line, and even when Bergeron wins the faceoff, its Ference making a dump under pressure from Daniel that got the puck turned over to the home team blue line. Edler made a fine pass up, but really, this play is all Burrows. He beat a Vezina goalie, a Norris defenseman, and scored a goal that is all will over skill.
The city and the rink went into euphoria, but look for several articles focussing on Burrows as the villain from the Boston media, if the questions they asked in the post game pressers is any indication. The narrative they are telling is that Burrows should not have been on the ice.
But damn, the Vancouver Canucks and their fans sure are. Two more wins to go. See ya Monday!