Surprising, maybe, because there's little history between the Bruins and Canucks, who play each other rarely due to the league's unbalanced schedule. But considering the stakes involved as the clubs battle for a Cup, a healthy heaping of hate shouldn't come as any kind of shock.
"You can look at it and say we haven't played too much and it was a little chippy, but we have a lot of hatred for each other," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said after practice Friday at the University of British Columbia. "Just being in the Finals alone, you want to win so bad you hate the other guy and you're willing to do anything to make sure you win. Being physical and chippy and taking shots at guys is part of the game, and it's only going to get worse as the series goes on."
It's hard to imagine how much worse it can get after a Game 1 that featured 14 penalties, 61 hits and countless scrums after nearly every whistle.
"Yeah, it's a playoff series," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. "This is playing Vancouver, a team we don't play too often. We play them one time a year. You definitely want to create that hate for them early. I think it was created. You saw the scrum at the end of that first period there."
Yes, that scrum at the end of the first certainly escalated things quickly, with the usually mild-mannered Patrice Bergeron engaging Canucks agitator Alexandre Burrows, and Burrows responding to a face wash by biting Bergeron's finger.
The game also featured Lucic getting upended by a Dan Hamhuis hip check that triggered another scrum and ended Hamhuis' night with an undisclosed injury. In addition, Marchand sent a Canuck head over skates in a scrum in the corner, as just about everyone got in on the physical action.
"It's pretty natural," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "In the Finals, you're going to have a lot of emotions, a lot of energies after a few days off. I think it's normal. Everybody competes harder. Everyone wants to win the battles and races. That's just pretty natural I think for the playoffs in general. Obviously when you're in the Finals, it always picks up."
Increased physical play can be expected at this time of year, but can the Bruins expect to thrive in such games as they did so often during the regular season? Many of their best performances came in very intense, fight-filled encounters against Atlanta, Dallas and Montreal. The stakes are too high for many full-fledged fights to be expected in the Cup, but the kind of emotional investment and intensity that comes from the hard hits and scrums could still play to Boston's advantage.
"Some guys get woken up and thrive in games like that," Marchand said. "It seems we have guys on our team that like that, so I guess we'll see."
Lucic is also hoping for the best in such a scenario, but noted that the Canucks do pretty well themselves when things get nasty.
"Well, it's tough to say," Lucic said. "Obviously we play well when we play that physical type of game. We need to play physical and have that presence when we're out there. But you look at Vancouver's last series against San Jose, they also played a very physical game against them. They didn't shy away from guys like Ryane Clowe and Douglas Murray and Joe Thornton, those types of guys. It was almost the other way, they went after them. As a team, we expected them to be physical. Time will tell if it will play in our favor."
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