Bruins

Canucks don't consider themselves villains

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Canucks don't consider themselves villains

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By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON Apparently its news to the Vancouver Canucks that theyre flopping and diving their way through the Stanley Cup Final as the unquestioned villains in the typically hard core hockey series.

While its always been a grudge match when hockey clubs get within four games of raising the Cup over their heads, Vancouver has bitten, clawed, gouged, faked, flopped and cheap-shotted their way to a 3-2 lead over the Bruins in the finals headed into Monday nights potentially decisive Game 6 at TD Garden.

Theres little question the Canucks have played well at home, but they still havent been nearly as overpowering as their talent would have indicated headed into the series against the Bruins. That lower level of execution -- in areas like a 1-for-22 power play and only two points from the Sedin twins in the series -- has forced a handful of Canucks to operate outside the lines of acceptable behavior in the Cup Final while performing in front of a national audience. Their actions have led many to attach to the Canucks the label of most hated team in hockey.

The Bruins werent going there.

Sometimes guys are trying to play the head games and you just cant worry about that, said Patrice Bergeron. Its part of the sport. You just have to worry about what you can control.

The Bruins certainly havent been angels either. Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic attempted to jam their fingers into the face of Maxim Lapierre and Alex Burrows -- but nearly every single Bs action has been a reaction to the Canucks.

Burrows has been one of the key offenders dating all the way back to he gnawed on Bergerons gloved index finger in Game 1. He didn't do anything for his reputation in Boston when he dove on a face-off in Game 5 that led to an embellishment call.

The Canucks troublemaker bristled at being called hated or a villain during the Cup Final, but if the tag fits, youve got to wear it.

I could care less, to be honest with you. Were one win away from achieving our goal and we just want to go out tomorrow night and get it, said Burrows, who has been very good in the series, including a three-point game in a 3-2 Game 2 victory in Vancouver. Who says that? I dont know where that comes from, honestly, so its tough for me to comment on.

I know we have a lot of good fans in Vancouver, and thats all that we care about. Its not my mindset to rub it in on anybody. Its just my mission to get in there and get ready to play while trying to win it tomorrow night.

While it's impossible to prove the Canucks are the most hated, and probably a bit hyperbolic given some of the truly bad eggs that have won the Stanley Cup in the history of the NHLs playoffs, there is clearly an anti-Canucks sentiment brewing in the hockey community that goes way, way beyond Bostons natural dislike for their Stanley Cup rivals.

There is something there, but Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa is clearly not feeling it, seeing it or acknowledging it. In fact, in Bieksas whimsical world, the entire nation of Canada is pulling for the Canucks against the Boston Bruins despite many protestations from hockey fans across Canada.

I dont think were in the villain role. I really dont, said Bieksa. There are a few people that dont like the way we play, but usually when you win people dont like that. I know when we played Chicago last year I dont remember too many people saying anything nice about them but Im pretty sure if you asked them they couldnt care less.

We dont feel like villains. We feel like we have all of Canada cheering for us and thats an entire country. So how can you be a villain when a whole country is cheering for you?

Perhaps someone should break it to Bieksa that there are large contingents in Calgary and Edmonton that definitely are not pulling for the Canucks, and plenty across Canada in every NHL outpost that dont respect the way Vancouver has behaved on the games biggest stage. Its a fallacy to begin with that all of Canada suddenly drops allegiances and begins blindly cheering for whatever Great White North team manages to drag themselves into the final seven game series.

Clearly Bieksa and Burrows are correct when they say that nobody likes a favorite in a series like the Cup Final, and that was Vancouvers fate against the Bruins.

But theres a veritable chasm between being a favorite and being a villain, and its something Vancouver wont be able to escape after some truly suspect actions in their first Cup go-round.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Backes, on mend from bout with diverticulitis, may return Thursday

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Backes, on mend from bout with diverticulitis, may return Thursday

BRIGHTON -- While there will clearly need to be sign-offs from the medical staff, the Bruins aren’t ruling out a return from David Backes for Thursday night’s game vs. the Vancouver Canucks.

Both Backes and Patrice Bergeron returned to Bruins practice with the rest of their teammates on Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena, but it was only the 33-year-old Backes that practiced fully without any limitations.

“He skated a little while we were away and a full practice today, so we’ll consult with the medical staff going forward with his plan,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “Potentially he could be an option for Thursday, and I think that should sort itself out in the next couple of days. We’re no different than anybody else, right? We’d like to have our full complement, and some of the guys we’re missing are glue guys that could really add that element to some of the kinds of games that got away from us.”

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After the team practice, Backes said that he’s been skating for the last four days and that he’s lost about 10 pounds over the last couple of weeks while adjusting to the medication and dietary treatments for diverticulitis. It wasn’t a complete shock to Backes given some of his family medical history, but he wasn’t expecting anything like that to hit him in the prime of his professional athletic career at just 34 years old.

“I have a family history of it, but this is kind of unfortunate timing and unfortunate circumstances. Hopefully I take care of this, get it behind me and not have to ever think about it again,” said Backes. “The first couple of days it was tough to just stand up straight or do anything, and then you’re on a ‘no exercise’ regimen for six or seven days. So progress . . . certainly. A return . . . we’ll see. Long-term prognosis we’ll have to discuss with the really smart guys.

“You don’t have much appetite, to deal with pain you take a painkiller and then that slows down digestion and just makes it even worse. So you’re stuck there…and it really drains your energy. I was on a liquid diet there for a few days and lost about 10 pounds. I don’t suggest that as a crash diet for anybody.”

He’s come a long way from being stuck in a Mass General hospital bed during Bruins opening night against the Nashville Predators, and Backes is hoping he’ll be all the way back to playing sooner rather than later. The Bruins right winger skated in a third line spot with Riley Nash and Tim Schaller on Tuesday, and said he’s actually even consulted a bit with former Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light, who battled his own stomach issues with Crohn’s Disease during his NFL career.

“I was like a kid in a candy store before practice. You have that carrot of Game 1 dangled in front of you and then taken away, and finally you’re back with the guys on the ice after they’ve been gone a week. Knowing what the results have been you want to interject a little energy out there while knowing that we’ve got 77 games left to establish ourselves, and find our game,” said Backes. “I felt good out there and it was nice to be back on the ice. I was smiling most of the day knowing that I’ll hopefully be playing some ice hockey in the future.

“We’re working to get that strength back and to return me to a productive member of this hockey team, which is going to be on the upswing here shortly. It’s not just due to me, but because guys are putting work in as a group. I’m trying to be as educated about it as I can, so I can be available as often as possible and as productive as possible when I am available.”

There are medical hurdles that need to be traversed by Backes before he can return, but once it becomes a matter of toughness and grit then he’ll be suiting up again for the Black and Gold, and that moment might be coming soon.

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'I definitely wasn't mad at our team,' Rask says of Vegas postgame comments

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'I definitely wasn't mad at our team,' Rask says of Vegas postgame comments

BRIGHTON, Mass – Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was acting a bit out of character after the Sunday night loss to the Vegas Golden Knights when he said he wouldn’t be commenting on team performance outside of his own goaltending. 

Clearly, it was a tense atmosphere in the Bruins dressing room following an extremely bad road performance and it would seem very likely there’s probably been some friction in the past between Rask and positional players over his postgame candor.

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That was the backdrop for Rask keeping it laconic, and saying on Sunday night: “I just try to go out there and give us a chance to win every night. That’s what I’m focused on. I’m not going to comment anymore on team play that much. We can just talk about goaltending. That’s just the way it is. Sorry.”

It would seem that some fans and Bruins observers took that to mean Rask was pissed off at his Bruins teammates after a few breakdowns defensively, and a total non-performance at the offensive end of the ice.

Taking all that into account, Rask clarified his comments a bit after practice Tuesday at Warrior Ice Arena and said it’s all about focusing on his own performance rather than taking issues with any of his teammates.

“You lose games and you’re not happy with your performance. Somebody just told me that I guess it got spun the wrong way that it was me mad at my teammates or something. That’s definitely not the case,” said Rask, whom at 1-3-0 with a 3.30 goals-against average and .880 save percentage this season, is clearly in need of some improvement as well.

“You lose games and you definitely hold yourself accountable and you want to talk about your performance and what you need to do to get better," Rask said. "So, that’s where I was coming from. I definitely wasn’t mad at our team. I was more mad at myself, so that’s that.

“You always try to give a fair assessment about the game, but I think the biggest thing that I need to worry about, and what everybody else needs to worry about, is how they get better themselves. You start from that, so that’s where I was coming from.”

The prospect of getting Patrice Bergeron and David Backes back healthy would go a long way toward improving the Bruins play on the ice and stabilizing things defensively for Rask and the rest of the Black and Gold. That’s really what’s needed at this point to improve a situation where the B’s are 23rd in the NHL, averaging 3.6 goals allowed per game, and real, rather than figurative, fingers might start getting pointed all around if it doesn’t start looking better in short order.