|Bruins, Canucks disagree over legality of Aaron Rome’s hit on Nathan Horton||06.07.11 at 2:20 am ET|
Almost as big a story as the game itself is Aaron Rome‘s first-period hit on Nathan Horton. After Horton dished a pass off to Milan Lucic, Rome stepped up and landed a late hit to the head that left Horton lying motionless on the ice for several minutes before being carried off on a stretcher.
After the game, players and coaches on both sides agreed that the primary concern was for Horton’s well-being. What they didn’t agree on, however, was how dirty or clean the hit actually was.
“I think what I would call it is it was a blindside hit that we’ve talked about taking out of the game,” Claude Julien said. “[Horton] made the pass. It was late. [Rome] came from the blindside. Whether it’s through the motion of the hit, it appeared he left his feet a little bit.”
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault disagreed with the assessment that it was the kind of hit the NHL is trying to get rid of.
“That hit was a head-on hit,” Vigneault said. “[Horton] was looking at his pass. It was a little bit late, but I don’t think that’s the type of hit that the league’s trying to take out.”
On replay, it appears that Horton was following the play more than anything — something any player would do while entering the zone on an offensive rush. Vigneault also conveniently ignored the fact that it was a hit to the head, regardless of what Horton was looking at. He wasn’t the only one in the Vancouver dressing room to defend the hit, though.
“I thought it was a very clean hit,” center Manny Malhotra said. “The timing was maybe a fraction off, but all in all, you see those hits on a daily basis.”
Malhotra’s assessment seems even more misguided than his coach’s. If it was “very clean,” Rome wouldn’t have been ejected from the game and he wouldn’t have a disciplinary hearing with the NHL Tuesday morning. And Malhotra must be playing in a different league than everyone else if he sees hits like that every day.
No one on the Bruins called Rome a dirty player, but they did say it was a bad hit.
“I played with him and from what I know of him, he is an honest player,” Shawn Thornton said. “But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it was a lateral hit to the head, and that’s what that rule was set into place for as far as I’m concerned.
“Aaron Rome is a good person. I played with him. We played together in Portland [Maine] and Anaheim. I’m not saying he’s a bad person. I’m just saying those are the hits – as players – we have to take out of the game.”
Whether or not NHL disciplinarian Mike Murphy decides to take Rome out of Game 4 and perhaps beyond remains to be seen. The Bruins didn’t directly say they think Rome should be suspended, but they certainly hinted at it by saying it’s the type of hit the league is trying to eliminate.
“I’ll say what I always say: let the league take care of it,” Julien said. “We’re trying to clean that out. Let’s see where they go with that.”
In one of the more physical, tense and nasty Stanley Cup final games in recent memory, the Bruins hammered the Canucks, 8-1, Monday night in Game 3 and now trail Vancouver, 2 games-to-1.
The physical play began with a shot to the head of Nathan Horton by Aaron Rome just over five minutes into the contest. Horton left on a stretcher after his neck was immobilized. He reported having feeling in all extremities and was taken to Massachusetts General for observation. The nastiness reached a new level in the third when Shawn Thornton was ejected via a 10-minute misconduct while three more Bruins followed. Rome was ejected along with three other Canucks in the third, as the Bruins poured it on with four goals in the second and four in the third.
“We had a good game but we were really looking to send a message and we wanted to get back in the series,” Brad Marchand said. “They had a pretty commanding lead there. We knew it was going to be a big game tonight and we were just hoping to get back in the series.
“Any playoff series it’s a battle out there. We’re fighting for something we wanted our whole lives. It’s going to be a battle every game. It’s going to look like that. I think it’s just going to get chippier as series goes on.”
|Nathan Horton leaves in stretcher after blindside hit from Aaron Rome, transported to hospital||06.06.11 at 8:37 pm ET|
Bruins forward Nathan Horton was motionless on the ice roughly five minutes into the first period of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals Monday after taking a blindside hit to the head from Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome. Horton did not have the puck as Rome dropped the first-line forward at the blueline. The back of Horton’s head was the first thing to hit the ice. After minutes without moving, Horton was taken off the ice in a stretcher. Rome was given a five-minute interference major and game misconduct.
The Bruins announced later in the period that Horton was transported to Mass General Hospital and is moving his extremities.
Former longtime NHL player Ray Ferraro, who now has a radio show in Vancouver and provides game analysis for Canadian television, joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday and offered a small dose of optimism for Bruins fans. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
“I think the Bruins can get back in the series tonight,” said Ferraro, who retired in 2002 after 18 NHL seasons and 898 points (408 goals). “I think if you played 100 games, I think the Canucks would win more. I really do. I think the Canucks are a deeper, better team. But that doesn’t mean that they’re going to win this series. What it means is tonight is absolutely imperative to the Bruins. They lose, they don’t have a chance. They win, then they’ve got a chance. They give themselves a chance in Game 4 to even this series.
“I think the Bruins can win tonight. But they’d better be letter perfect, because the Canucks are a good road team.”
Ferraro said it’s important for the B’s to get off to a good start, and physical play from Shawn Thornton — who has not dressed the first two games — might help in that regard.
“I would make that move,” Ferraro said, adding: “If the Bruins are going to get back in the series — and really, without poo-pooing a 2-0 deficit, they haven’t really haven’t lost anything. They haven’t lost at home. At some point, they’ve got to win a game in Vancouver to win the series. Now, they’ve got to take care of their business here at home.
“They’re looking for an aggressive start. Well, Dan Paille is playing four minutes a game. So, if Shawn Thornton goes into the lineup in his place, the opportunity Thornton plays those four, five, six minutes — and he had a good season for the Bruins — he’ll give you some physical play. If I’m coaching, I’m really thinking about it. The only concern I would have is if the pace of the game is too fast for Thornton. You’ve got to make sure that he can keep up with the pace of play, because right now it is a track meet out on the ice. It is extremely fast.”
Canucks forward Alex Burrows had two goals and an assist in Game 2 after apparently taking a bite of Patrice Bergeron‘s finger in Game 1. Ferraro said he felt it was a suspendable offense.
“I do,” Ferraro said. “I’m on the radio in Vancouver and it wasn’t a real popular position. I’m not a fan of — let me put it this way: I know there’s different standards for playoffs and regular-season games. I thought Nathan Horton should have been suspended for Game 7 [of the Bruins-Lightning series] for squirting a fan with a water bottle, because you get suspended in the regular season for that. And I thought Burrows should have been suspended for Game 2.
“The other thing, too, guys, is like, OK, so they decide not to suspend him. But for them to say there’s no conclusive evidence of him biting Bergeron — I said on our show, if that’s the case then I want to rob a bank in the city of the NHL, because I’ll never get caught. How much more evidence do you need than that? He shouldn’t have been in the game. And then you’re right, it is the NHL’s worst scenario, that a player that shouldn’t be in the game goes and has such a direct impact on the outcome of the next game.”
The Bruins have a tall task ahead of them as they look to overcome an 0-2 hole and turn the Stanley Cup finals into an actual series. Both games have been determined by just one goal thus far, and though the Bruins have played poorly from the most part, the first two games have shown the B’s can hang with the Canucks, even if they haven’t totally shown up yet. With the number three in mind, here’s a preview of Monday’s Game 3.
THREE THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
- Get better looks vs. Roberto Luongo and establish a net-front presence. We’ll say it until it changes, and it didn’t change enough in Game 2. The Canucks have been able to box the Bruins out so far in the series, but look at how the B’s scored their goals in Game 2. Milan Lucic buried a rebound from in front, and Mark Recchi redirected a shot in front of Luongo. When the Bruins were able to set up shop and do things from close range, the puck went in. It seems trying it any other way is an exercise in futility.
- Keep moving Zdeno Chara around on the power play. Recchi’s goal came as a result of Claude Julien moving Chara back to the point, but Julien should keep mixing it up when it comes to the Bruins’ mammoth captain. He still appeared to be a nuisance in front of Luongo in Game 1, so Julien should have enough confidence in Chara’s abilities in both areas to play him in different spots from power play to power play.
- Use the home crowd to their advantage. Whether or not they want to admit it, Rogers Arena was absolutely electric and had to have been a tough place to play. If the Garden can turn down the music and let the fans create an authentic atmosphere, maybe the Canucks can truly feel like they’re at an opponent’s home and not a wrestling match.
- Both the Bruins and Canucks have seen four of their last five games be determined by one goal. The Bruins are 2-3 in that span, while the Canucks are 4-1.
- The four goals Tim Thomas has allowed over the last three games ties this stretch with his best of the postseason. Thomas let in four goals over Games 2 through 4 of the conference semifinals vs. the Flyers, though the difference is that the Bruins won all three of those games and have lost two of the three games in this stretch.
- Brad Marchand has gone four games without scoring. In the other two instances this postseason in which he went four straight without a goal, he scored the following game.
THREE PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
- Tim Thomas: He plays aggressive – the sky is falling! As bad as the game-wining goal he allowed in overtime Saturday looked, the reaction by some suggest nobody has actually watched Thomas before. He’s all over the place, and he plays farther out of his net than most. It will be interesting to see how be performs in Game 3 given all the heat he’s been under for his style this series.
- Alexandre Burrows: The Bruins have every reason to be furious that Burrows wasn’t suspended for Game 2, though they’re not showing it. At any rate, their No. 1 concern should be finding away to stop the guy who showed Saturday that his offensive ability (2 G, A in Game 2) is just as sharp as his teeth.
- Rich Peverley: Where to play the speedy winger? Peverley has seen time on the second line, third line and fourth line (and the first if you want to count him taking one of Nathan Horton’s shifts in Game 7 of the conference finals when Horton was banged up) in recent games. Peverley could continue to take some of Mark Recchi’s shifts on the second line, or he could skate with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder, as he did from late in the second period Saturday to the end of the contest. If and when Julien makes a move to get Shawn Thornton in the lineup at the expense of Tyler Seguin this series, the line of Kelly centering Peverley and Ryder would make sense.
Also, don’t rule out Peverley having a target on his back in Game 3. His two-handed slash to the back of Kevin Bieksa’s knee didn’t go over well with Bieksa, his teammates or his coaches. Given the nature of the play, it shouldn’t have. Peverley really got away with one, and had he scored on his shot that followed the non-penalized slash, it would have looked even worse.
|Bruins looking for more physical, less penalized play in Game 2||06.04.11 at 5:48 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins found themselves shorthanded six times in the first two periods of Wednesday’s Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals against Vancouver, and despite shutting down the Canucks’ power play, they don’t want to push their luck.
“We don’t want to take too many penalties,” Nathan Horton said Saturday in anticipation of Game 2. “We know they’ve got a great power play, and we want to stay out of the box as much as possible, but we want to play as hard as we can and not cross that line. When we’re playing the way we can, we’re not taking penalties. We’re moving our feet, and that’s what we want to do.”
The Bruins’ primary focus for Game 2 will be to get better looks against Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, who had a relatively easy 36-save shutout on Wednesday. One area in which the B’s know they need to be more physical — but cautiously so in an effort to stay out of the box — is in front to set up more close-range opportunities.
“There can always be more [net-front presence], regardless of if you feel you did a good job, or if you did a poor job,” center Chris Kelly said. “Obviously, when you get traffic in front of any goalie, especially a guy of his caliber, it makes things easier on yourself and harder on him.”
As for the 28 penalty minutes between the two teams in the game’s first 40 minutes, Kelly said the officials may have been more inclined to call the game tighter based on the fact that it was the first of such a big series.
“I think obviously the refs wanted to establish that they weren’t going to let anything go. You tend to see that in the first game of the series, lots of calls made,” Kelly said. “We need to know that we need to stay out of the box, because they’ve got a good power play. If we can stay out, the less chances they get. That’s better for us.”
Added Horton: “We don’t know what to expect from [the refs], but we’re just going to get back to the way we can play and leave everything on the ice. It’s an important game for us, and we don’t want to go down, 0-2.”
|Brian Leetch on M&M: Bruins ‘don’t feel an underdog’||06.01.11 at 12:09 pm ET|
Hall of Fame defenseman Brian Leetch joined the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup finals, which get under way Wednesday night in Vancouver. To hear the interview, go the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Leetch, who grew up in Connecticut and played collegiately at Boston College, was asked about the Bruins being underdogs in this series.
“I know they don’t feel an underdog,” he said. “When you have two good teams playing, sometimes it’s just an easier pick to pick the team with more points during the regular season, or they had a couple of better stats. But you look at their stats up and down, these teams — we’ve almost gotten to 100 games now — are almost identical. Right through the playoffs and the regular season, there’s not much that separates them. The goaltending is both excellent, their top players, their depth.”
Asked about the Bruins being physical while avoiding penalties, Leetch said: “I think when we talk about the Bruins playing physical, it kind of gets taken a little out of context, of them going outside of their game or playing some different style. Really, their game is to get the puck in, is to finish their checks. It’s not to physically intimidate a team or to injure or to get a different style of play going.
“It’s their strength. It’s the way they play. And that doesn’t mean taking the extra run, it doesn’t mean going out of your way. It means getting he pucks int eh areas where you can get in on the forecheck, where you can take the body, where you can play physical. And the Bruins know as a team, you’ll hear it come out of each guy’s mouth, that we’re at our best when we play that way. We’re at our best when we finish checks, we’re moving our feet, we’re involved physically. So, I don’t think it does anything to take them out of a comfort zone or to run around. It’s just emphasis on playing the game the right way, which for the Bruins means playing physical.”
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