Bruins

Boston, Vancouver have very different views on toughness

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Boston, Vancouver have very different views on toughness

Its pretty clear at this point that the hockey markets of Boston and Vancouver despise each other. Its getting to the same levels of hatred that the Celtics and Lakers had for each other in the 1980s, and that the Yankees and Red Sox have harbored for each other since Babe Ruth was more than a candy bar.

A full four days after the Stanley Cup Finals rematch went down on the Garden ice, the arrows are still being winged from both camps about who started what.

It has played out more like a messy Hollywood divorce than a hockey rivalry.

The verbal joust on "Sticks and Stones" between Shawn Thornton and Vancouver Province columnist Tony Gallagher is the perfect example of the differing mentalities employed by the two hockey havens. There couldnt be two more alternate views of the honest way to approach the game of hockey.

After last week, its clear that the Canucks believe in playing things out through the media and league offices rather than battling it out on the ice.

Dale Weise all 6-foot-2, 210-pounds of him proved the perfect embodiment of this mindset. After backing out of a fight with the 6-foot-2, 217-pound Thornton, Weise looked like a less-than-honorable figure after hed given all the telltale signs he was ready for a round of fisticuffs. Never mind that Weise has engaged in six NHL fights this season versus Thorntons 10, and that it appeared both players were properly matched up in the same weight class. Weise became the picture of exactly what the Boston hockey fan abhors most: cowardice and lack of accountability.

The Bruins, on the other hand, have been defined by their long history of the "Big Bad Bs." It's telling that Boston fans never truly embraced the laid-back persona of a bona fide superstar like Joe Thornton. Instead they worship at the alter of physical players that push the edge like Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic. As long as Cam Neely is the organizations president, their style isnt likely to change.

The city of Boston wouldnt have it any other way.

In Vancouver, they seem to favor other qualities over toughness. Apparently, their philosophy seems to center around backing away from conflicts. In terms of fight or flight instincts, the Canucks usually choose "flight" without the bat of an eyelash.

Gallagher openly wondered why the Canucks are so hated when they don't act like bullies.

"Here's what I don't understand. I don't understand how a team can be so hated I understand they have a couple of vexing guys like Alex Burrows and Maxim Lapierre. They're agitators and just about every team has a couple of them. But they have no toughness. Normally, teams that are hated have a horde of tough guys that just maraud and punch other teams into oblivion. How can you be hated when you have no toughness?"

Perhaps in some NHL quarters (ahem, Montreal) there are heads nodding in unison as Gallagher launched into the woe is Vancouver soliloquy.

But in most corners of the hockey world toughness is worn like a proud badge.

Players are "honest" when they respect their opponents, answer the bell when its expected. Most refuse to feign injury just because it will net their team a delayed penalty call.

Sometimes honest players and teams stumble -- as Marchand did when he clearly sought out a cheap shot on Sami Salo last weekend. But he's paying the price with a five-game suspension.

The Canucks are also paying the price for the cost of doing business their way: they're hated.

Nobody will ever respect a team that uses cunning and blinding arrogance to light their path toward Presidents Trophies. Some might have said after watching Game One of last years Stanley Cup Finals that the Canucks were unfit to raise the Cup after Burrows bit Patrice Bergeron, and the hockey gods seemed to agree as the Bruins celebrated on Vancouver ice last spring.

The Bruins are the bear with overpowering strength and quick-trigger temper that sometimes gets them in trouble. The Canucks are the weasel, constantly avoiding accountability with mealy-mouthed excuses and dirty tricks.

The difference between the two teams is more than punching or marauding. Its about how nearly everyone in the Vancouver organization carries themselves.

Maybe someday people like Gallagher will get why the Canucks are such a reviled organization, but somehow I doubt it.

Bruins hope to keep cooking with a winning recipe

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Bruins hope to keep cooking with a winning recipe

The Bruins seemed to discover a winning formula on the West Coast. Now the challenge is to keep it going.

It took them more than a month of play in the regular season, but they finally won two games in a row. Anton Khudobin and the B's played strong defense and finally built leads against the Kings and Sharks, and they avoided the kind of soft goal or defensive mistake that has been at the heart of so many of their losses.

Clearly that kind of tight, defensive game is how they're going have to play until they get their full lineup back, and they need plenty of wins. They're currently stuck in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, three points out of a playoff spot.

"It's always nice to get a couple of wins, especially against tough teams," said David Krejci, who is scoreless but averaging almost 17 minutes of ice time  in the two games since returning from a back injury. "We knew we had some areas of our game that we had to improve, and we still do after the start to the game we had against San Jose. It's nice to get two in a row, and we're focusing on three in [New Jersey]. We're building toward something, and we're on the right track. It's a big game [against the Devils].

"Playing with a lead, playing good defensively and having a good, structured game with everybody buying in . . . when you have a young team and you're playing strong clubs like LA and San Jose, it really says a lot about what we're trying to do here when you can get the job done."

The good news is the Bruins are going to make it through the Thanksgiving marker within shouting distance of a playoff spot, but they're still just scratching the surface of what they need to do to stay relevant in the East. They're hoping that finally reeling off a couple of consecutive wins can start a run of good hockey at a time when they desperately need it.

"I think we've played as a five-man unit" said Kevan Miller. "Forwards are getting back to help the 'D', and defensemen are stepping up to help the forwards. When you play like that and everybody is on the same page, it makes it that much easier. I think everybody, whether you're coming from Providence or you're up here, has played the same systems, but it can be a little bit of a struggle to get everybody on the same page.

"We've done a pretty good job of that, but doing it for 60 minutes has been a bit of an issue. We're trying to work on that."

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Grzelcyk happy to be back w/ B's and confident in his game

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Grzelcyk happy to be back w/ B's and confident in his game

BRIGHTON, Mass – It had to be a bitter pill for Matt Grzelcyk to be sent back down to the AHL after playing solidly for the Bruins earlier this season. 

The 23-year-old Charlestown native was excellent playing in place of Torey Krug in Boston’s opening night win over the Nashville Predators, but his stay didn’t last very long. The former Boston University standout was back in the minor leagues shortly afterward once Krug returned from his fractured jaw a little earlier than expected. Now Krug is again banged up again with an upper body injury, and Grzelcyk has been called up to fill in for Krug during Wednesday night’s pre-Thanksgiving road game in New Jersey against the Devils.

Once again it will be about a focus on puck-moving and power play for Grzelcyk, who is the closest thing that the Bruins have to the smaller, skilled Krug in their minor-league system. 

“I was happy with how things went before I got sent to Providence, so I’m just going to try to do the things that I was doing well before I got sent down. Mentally knowing that I can play at the NHL level [is huge], and just going through the experience was positive,” said Grzelcyk. “Mentally my first year I think I was a little too nervous and tentatively with my play, and that’s not me at all when I’m at my best. I’m confident with the puck, and confident with my speed and ability. It was just about going out and doing it on the ice.”

Grzelcyk was okay down in Providence with four assists and a plus-4 rating in 14 games, but he’s been patiently waiting for another NHL call since logging 12:11 of solid puck-moving ice time in his lone appearance for Boston this season. Now he’ll get it in a likely pairing with Kevan Miller against the New Jersey Devils

“He’s a puck-mover. He’s quick. He can get up the ice and support the rush, and he’s a good distributor,” said Cassidy of Grzelcyk. “There are a lot of natural similarities to Torey [Krug] because of their physical makeup, but they are similar [players] with Torey at this level being a bit more significant offensive player. Whether it’s in [Grzelcyk] or not time will tell, but we believe it is and we just need to get it out of him.”

Grzelcyk will get a chance to show that offensive wrinkle and more when he suits up against the New Jersey Devils for his second game of the season after paying his dues with the P-Bruins overt the last month. 

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