Bruins show this Caps fan what champs look like
Should the Boston Bruins win the Stanley Cup, we will look back at Games 3 and 4 as the moment that the Bruins took the heart of the Vancouver Canucks.
The Bruins have punched the Canucks in the gut like Dolemite did to Willie Green. The Canucks look staggered, dazed, like a playground bully who just got smacked in the face for the first time.
How else to explain the Canucks’ performance in Game 4? They wanted no part of this Boston team, which lacks Vancouver’s talent but sure makes up for it in hellacious determination.
Boston’s dominance over these two games got me thinking back to how my Washington Capitals meekly excited the playoffs. Gosh, it seems like a century ago that Tampa Bay swept the Caps.
Watching the Bruins play desperate, nasty hockey truly pointed out the Caps’ shortcomings.
The Bruins could have easily folded after losing the first two games of this series in Vancouver in heartbreaking fashion. Raffi Torres won Game 1 with a goal that came with 18 seconds left in regulation. Alex Burrows – who became Public Enemy No.1 in Boston for biting the finger of the Bruins Patrice Bergeron in Game 1 – won Game 2 11 seconds into overtime.
As if to make it worse, Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome hammered one of Boston’s top forwards, Nathan Horton, early in Game 3, putting him out of the series with a concussion.
But instead of dwelling on their tough luck in Vancouver and in losing Horton, the Bruins bore down, got nasty and physical with the more skilled Canucks and began to solve Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo.
The Bruins won Game 3 8-1, and the score indicated just how bad Boston had stomped Vancouver all over the ice. The Rome hit seemed to turn into a rallying cry. They got angry, started to find more holes in Luongo than the movie “Holes” and made the Canucks pay the price all game long. The Bruins beat Vancouver and they beat them up too.
The most telling moment for me was late in Game 3, when Boston forward Milan Lucic got into a scrum with Burrows. With the linesman between them, Lucic stuck his fingers in Burrows’ face, taunting him, practically begging Burrows to bite them.
In Game 4, the Canucks came out like they wanted no part of Boston. The Bruins beat them handily, 4-0, and got some more of Burrows, when goalie Tim Thomas took a whack at Burrows’ legs with his stick.
A fight ensued and the Canucks’ best players, the Sedin twins, looked like they would rather be on Alex Ovechkin’s Moscow party boat than take another facewash from Boston’s shutdown defensive duo of Zdeno Chara (the NHL’s tallest player at 6’9) and Dennis Seidenberg.
Another incident in Game 4 was when Boston’s version of Burrows, Brad Marchand, took down Canucks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and then hip checked Daniel Sedin. Vancouver’s Keith Ballard went right for Marchand for the obligatory fight, while Ehrhoff lurked around, trying to find an opening to take a few whacks at Marchand. In comes Boston’s Adam McQuaid and Ehrhoff goes into what we call in hockey “the turtle.” He started to skate away and then hit the ice before McQuaid could make him eat a right hand. Just like the Sedins, Ehrhoff wanted no part of the Bruins.
Needless to say, it got me thinking that the Caps never do stuff like that in the playoffs. Probably why they haven’t won anything. They don’t want to get nasty, get mean, to get in a pest like Alex Burrows’ grill and point a finger in his face.
The Caps are usually just like Ehrhoff; looking for a way to get out of the building when the game gets tough.
For example, two years ago Sidney Crosby murdered the Caps by standing two feet from the goal and burying rebounds and put-backs. Some Caps fans got on Crosby for scoring all his goals that way, but really, if the Caps let him do it, why shouldn’t he? Or, as the great Clay Davis once said, “I’ll take any M’Fer’s money if he givin’ it away!”
I guarantee you the guys on this Bruins team would have done what the Caps didn’t do: namely, knock Crosby on his rear end. No way Chara or McQuaid stands there and lets Crosby score from the crease area like Mike Green, Jeff Schultz and Tom Poti did that year.
And that is the difference between a team that is worthy of and wants to be called champions, like the Bruins, and a team that likes to talk about being champions like the Caps.
Certainly, this series is not over. Vancouver may have run scared in Boston, but they’re a different animal at home in British Columbia. The Vancouver crowd seems to will the Canucks to play better and Luongo has bounced back from bad games before. The Canucks looked cooked after blowing a 3-0 lead to Chicago in Round 1 and managed to win. There are proud people on the Vancouver roster, and no doubt they will be ready to turn their game up after being embarrassed in Boston.
But if nothing else, these Bruins have shown that being a Stanley Cup champion requires more than just talent.
It requires players who aren’t afraid to get dirty, who don’t look to make excuses when the breaks don’t go their way, who can motivate themselves to play at a higher level and whose only goal is taking home the big hardware, not pounding drinks and scoring chicks at a nightclub.
It requires coaches that are results-oriented, who don’t whine about the refs when things don’t go right and who demand more preparation from their players than just “optional skates.”
Caps fans, players, ownership and management should take notes.
Random baseball draft musings
I typically don’t follow the MLB draft given that 1) it’s a crapshoot and 2) none of these guys figures to be in the majors for two to three years, if not longer. That being said, two quick points…
a) The Pirates took UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole with the top overall pick. Allow me to welcome Mr. Cole to my Hall of Awesome Names along with such luminaries as Mack Strong, Jack Slaughter and Sergio Momesso.
Man, is Gerrit Cole a great name. It sounds like an old west gunfighter or a bad action movie hero. Can’t you just picture Steven Seagal playing a character named “Gerrit Cole” as he delivers one-liners like, “I’m gonna take you to the bank Senator Trent…to the blood bank!” and beats up a barroom full of oil workers.
Without a doubt, the greatest collection of names on one team was the 1980 Atlanta Falcons, who featured names like Steve Bartkowski, Jeff Van Note, Lynn Cain, Bob Glazebrook, Tom Pridemore, Robert Pennywell, Dewey McClain and my personal favorite, Fulton Kuykendall.
You could cast Nic Cage’s next five bad movies with names like that.
b) Not to say the Pirates got the only guy with a cool-sounding name. My Baltimore Orioles drafted a young high-school pitcher named Dylan Bundy. You got to love a guy who combines the last names of one of the most famous musicians of the last 50 years and one of the most notorious murderers of the last 50 years.
As an O’s fan, I hope Mr. Bundy becomes the most famous Bundy in American history, surpassing Ted Bundy, Al Bundy and King Kong Bundy.
The Orioles already had Bundy’s brother Bobby in the system – he’s a pitcher at Single-A Frederick – and I can already sense a Sly/Frank Stallone dynamic, given that Dylan got the better name. I liked the Bundy brothers after reading about a radio interview with them where they commented on Nationals super-prospect Bryce Harper blowing kisses to the opposing pitcher after hitting a home run. Dylan Bundy said he would plunk Harper all four times he came to bat the next game.
I think I’m going to enjoy the Dylan Bundy Era.