Trip Back in Time Killing Canucks

The NHL has taken a trip back in time these playoffs. Well, at least the referees have and the Canucks are paying the price.

The vast amount of inconsistency among the reffing has been a major storyline throughout the playoffs. Following a penalty filled game 1, the referees seem to think it’s 1995 all over again. That’s the only plausible explanation for their ignoring the excessive amount of physical play that has taken over the series.

Yeah, it’s the playoffs. The reins are supposed to be loosened a bit but in the last 3 games the reins have fallen right off.

Since the lockout, those fierce battles in front of the net have been a thing of the past. Players are supposed to be allowed to stand in front of the net and do their work instead of having to assault their opponent for every half-inch of ice. Don’t tell the refs though because Zdeno Chara is brutalizing Ryan Kesler in his new found home every chance he gets.

Related: NHL Referee Conundrum

The unnecessary and absurd amount of cross-checking hasn’t escaped the attention of many, except of course the referees who have suddenly decided to check out of 2011.

The time travelling is no doubt hurting the Canucks and giving the Bruins a significant edge. The physicality being displayed, that is not supposed to be in the game anymore, is allowing the Bruins to travel even farther back in time to bring back the Big Bad Bruins of old.

Man, do they ever need it.

The Boston Bruins need this excessive physicality in order to slow down a Canucks team that is much faster and skilled. It is part of what has allowed them to get back in this series. The Canucks are not built as a team that can handle the physicality of a 1990’s playoff series, when violence that would be worthy of a prison sentence away from the rink was the norm. Don’t even get me started on the extra-curricular activity going on after the whistle.

Saying that you have to let the players play or that it’s the playoffs are easy cop outs for fans and analysts. You don’t rustle any feathers and that way you can maintain the status quo.

It’s not fair to the Vancouver Canucks. It’s like changing the rules in the middle of the game.

The Boston Bruins obviously don’t mind because it plays right into their hands. Not that it had any effect on the game, but the fact that Tim Thomas was allowed to body check Henrik Sedin shows how much things have gotten out of control. That was just game 3.

It’s difficult for a finesse inclined team to work under these conditions. Conditions that they could not and should not have expected.

This isn’t the only problem affecting the Vancouver Canucks because you can point to a zillion other things. However, the extreme physical play, that doesn’t look like it is going to be put to halt anytime soon, is something far out of their control. This is something severely hindering their play that they have no power over.

No Canuck coach or player is going to come out publicly and complain about this. I mean, it is the playoffs. You can bet though that they’re trying to address this behind closed doors. Too bad they don’t have the personnel to address something that should be a non-issue.

The game of hockey has changed from the animal-esque Neanderthal play we witnessed prior than the lockout. The game may have evolved but it’s clear that the refereeing hasn’t.

It’s killing the Canucks.

Related: Roberto Luongo the Ex-Factor

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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16 Responses to Trip Back in Time Killing Canucks

  1. Bheise says:

    I’d agree with this a lot more if the past two games were close, but the Canucks have been outscored 12-1 in the last 2 games. There’s no doubt the “letting them play” mentality is helping the Bruins, (my God they’re physical) but bottom line…Luongo needs to be better. That’s the real isue.

  2. BackCheck says:

    Yeah I hear ya Chris but it reads like a bit of sour grapes and excuse making. What has impressed me in the two games in Boston is the Bruins getting on their wheels and in on the forecheck. Jeez, the Nucks got smothered in their own zone in their two road games. Plus Tim Thomas is in the zone.

    Nucks have to get away from the Bruins forecheck and they have to solve Thomas.

  3. JW says:

    I agree with the last two commenters…Canuck fans weren’t singing this tune when they were up 2-0.

    Keep in mind that the Canucks aren’t exactly showing well to the casual hockey fan who only tunes in at Cup Final time. They are coming off as finger-biting, cheap-shot artists…and now the fans are trying to add “cry-baby” to the list.

    • Chris Ross says:

      I think probably a lot of fans in general don’t notice or don’t care about smaller things when you are winning, which is what you are referring to. The thing is, as I said in the article, game 1 was not like this in any way whatsoever. Moreover, I would not talk about this after game 2 because of lack of evidence and game 3 the Rome hit was front and center so I wrote about that. This has been frustrating me for 3 games now and I thought this was as good a time as any to write this.

  4. buddad1957 says:

    Completely AGREE!

  5. kevin says:

    pretty much. brad marchand all but stabbed dudes in ge 4 and they probably still wouldnt have called it

  6. ccapone11 says:

    Chris, you certainly make a fair point about the inconsistency of the reffing although it has gone both ways. I disagree on the Thomas comments however. That was a legal body check thrown there, a goalie has every right to check and opposing players have every right to legally hit a goalie when he is outside his crease, although his team will certainly retaliate. Thomas saw the opportunity to disengage Sedin from the puck and did so. It was more of a good play than anything.

    As far as the physical play out front that was never taken out of the game. If you want to stand in those high quality areas you pay the price with cross checks and physical contact. That’s what makes power forwards like Looch, Kesler so valuable as they are willing to pay the price for their team’s success. Nonetheless, a solid article and definitely something to think about. Keep up the good work!


    • It wasn’t a body check — it was a tackle. He used his hands to push Hendrik Sedin over.

      Goalies are protected by the rules, since with all their heavy equipment they would be at a real disadvantage if skaters could body check them like they can other players. Conversely, goalies can’t go after skaters (or at least I thought so until watching games 3 and 4 of the finals).

      The thing is, if goalies like Thomas are going to start tackling and checking, what’s to stop the other team from lining them up and smashing into them?

  7. This was just stupid. “The physicality being displayed, that is not supposed to be in the game anymore.” First, Sedin had the puck and was coming into the crease, I PERFECTLY LEGAL CHECK by the goalie knocked his pansy ass to the ground. (Thomas levels Mary Kate Sedin while Ashley watches)

    Kevin, I don’t know if you remember this, but Marchand got tossed from that game, by the way, without having to stab anybody, funny how you just forgot how that happened. (Marchand gets tossed after clotheslining Ehrhoff, fending off poor attempt of a check by one of the Daniel Sedin and then defending himself from Ballard)

    Also, the refs have been keeping the penalty box fairly full, with both teams, but correct me if I am wrong here, and I am not, but the B’s have spent significantly more time in the box than the Canucks have in the last 2 games. (Including 14 more minutes in game 4) So your critique of the ref’s just doesn’t add up, literally.

    And yes, the Big Bad Bruins are a physical team, but they aren’t head hunting, finger eating thugs either, and no, hockey hasn’t changed since the lockout, your team might have and too bad for you, but its a physical game. Which is exactly why the rewording of Rule 48 is being taken so seriously, so that hockey can keep its physicality and still protect players from thugs like Rome, a 3rd liner nobody who isn’t even an enforcer, just a punk.

  8. The Mayor says:

    Canucks are brutal. I respect your blog, but not your hockey team. You should jump ship and be a jets fan. Have some pride.

  9. George Brew says:

    I fully disagree with the point about the officiating in this series. The NHL brass has cost the hockey fans a great series because of the non suspension of Burrows after game 1. The thing killing the Canucks is Vigneault, the Defense and Luongo. The Bruins are out hustling them, the same thing Chicago had done in Games 4-7.

  10. jeffrsabo says:

    I agree that the officiating has been inconsistent in this series and it seems like each game is different. I kept joking on my twitter account (@jeffrsabo) about the penalties in Game 1. It seemed like the officials kept calling everything under the sun and it slowed the pace of the first period down.

    As for the other games, with the exception of Rome’s game misconduct for interference, the refs have not been as quick to call a penalty. The Bruins will continue to hit as long as they are not penalized and it changed the momentum in Games 3 and 4.

  11. Sasha says:

    I completely agree in terms of how physicality has affected the dynamics of this series and just how perplexing the officiating has been at times. Especially on the amount of cross-checking after whistles, I’ve been shocked. It seems as if the refs generally let it devolve into madness and then are forced to hand out a slew of misconducts at the very end. From my count, there were 12 in games three and four. Twelve! In a final. I know the TV commentators chime in with it every time, but it is true, the officials need to set a tone of what is and isn’t acceptable. Handing out a bunch of misconducts at the very end of the third is sort of useless. It doesn’t compensate for previous non-calls. With Walkom and O’Rourke in tonight, it will be interesting to see how things play out. I’m sure they’ve gotten orders from the top to clean it up.

    The Bruins definitely decided to key-in on taking the Canucks out of their element and out of the game through their physicality, along with the inconsistencies of officiating. They’ve destabilized them. There’s no other way to explain the failure of the Canucks’ power-play these last two games. The Bruins are simply slower, have less finesse, as you noted. It’s sad, but true. There were points earlier in the regular season that were frustrating as could be, as it seemed they had cement blocks around their legs. Obviously the run-around Montreal gave them was indicative of this. But the Bruins have the capacity to crank it up to another level when they need to. There were a few times in the regular season when silenced the Flyers, Penguins and Capitals simply by “turning it on.” And that’s the issue, though. They’re sort of finicky, fragile. It’s unclear to me when or if the Bruins will turn it on. But again, when the Bruins focus, hard hitting, and initiating especially brutal puck battles, it all starts clicking.

    Marchand’s little move in the third period, tossing Ehrhoff and Daniel Sedin onto the ice, even after the whistle had blown in the case of Sedin? That was sort of egregious to me. But it also epitomized the Bruins’ approach in this series. Sure, that’s how Marchand plays. And as much as the Boston crowd demonized PK Subban in round one, the two have a lot of similarities in terms of the edges they play with. The Bruins recognize big, bad Bruin hockey and it frightens them, but it also provokes them. The flashes of edge in Kesler and Burrows and Lapierre have drawn out a monster in the Bruins.

    All this is to say: the Bruins are cognizant of what they excel at, and that’s edgy, physical, body-slamming play and lots of nonsense in scrums around the net. I think the Bruins just realized after game two that they had to play a little recklessly in order to gain an edge to challenge a team that’s faster and stronger. It’s definitely not fair for the Canucks, but I don’t know how to stop it.

  12. millcitymauler says:

    There’s a difference between being physical and being dirty. There’s a reason that the majority of NHL players do not want the Canucks to win the Cup. It’s their style of play. No doubt the Canucks are a much faster and better skilled hockey team than the Bruins, and they’ve showed that in their three home-ice wins. But they completely turtled in the two games in Boston.

    All series Burrows has been taking shots at Bruins skaters — hell, he was the one that instigated the exchange with Thomas at the end of Game 3 by chopping down on Thomas’ stick. And now every time he gets brushed he’s down on the ice. He’s spent more time on his back than half the hookers in Vancouver.

    I’ve lost a tremendous amount of respect for Kessler in the five games I’ve watched him, and LaPierre is a cheapshot artist. Let’s not even talk about the Rome hit or the Burrows finger-biting.

    And Marchand is being called out for ducking down behind the net and flipping Daniel Sedin in Game 3? Nobody seems to mention that Sedin was bearing down to drill Marchand with an after-the-whistle hit.

    The Bruins are not without their faults, but they are an aggressive, physical team. The Canucks are an immensely skilled but dirty team that tries to get away with cheap shots then flops around on the ice when they themselves get hit.

  13. Chris, this is the Stanley Cup playoffs. The series has been physical since the first minute of Game 1. I mean, the refs aren’t going to call anything. Any fan of either team would be upset, I understand that, but sometimes you have to realize that, you know, you’ve got to let them just play it out. Hockey is a physical sport. Did Burrows get caught when he (almost definitely) bit Patrice Bergeron’s finger?

  14. Conrailgrille says:

    Ha Canucks lost buddy, they played like females. I guess you are ok with cheering for a team of skilled pansy players? I would much rather cheer for a gritty hard hitting team of average skilled players with the heart of lions, full of grit and fire.

    Your article is like a crying towel for your poor team. They got banged right out of this series and had to watch Chara raise that cup haahhaha…Then they went and flipped cars and broke their stuff cuz they lost ahhaa…what a disgrace. I love it. I enjoyed every bit of it. Fellow Canadians across the country stopped pulling for them even, they were like they don’t play hard nosed hockey….that’s what ppl really want. More then some finesse skilled move…we want body’s banging, real men on the ice. Btw, Luongo is a joke. Tried calling out Thomas, then got shell shocked over and over..hahaha what a chump. Looks like some greasy dirt bag as well..Thomas looks like hockey. Big old ugly mustache..come get some son.

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