BOSTON -- The bad blood carried over in a big way in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals rematch in Boston as the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks combined for 107 penalty minutes in a 4-3 win by Vancouver.
The highlight of the rough stuff came 3:54 into regulation as Shawn Thornton took exception to what he claimed was a spear to his throat by Alexandre Burrows in front of the Canucks bench. As Thornton retaliated, he was suddenly engulfed in a sea of white as six Canucks players were on top of him.
Teammate Milan Lucic came flying over to defend his teammate and was later ejected for leaving the bench during an altercation. Such an infraction can incur a 10-game suspension, but following the game the NHL announced the game misconduct had been rescinded and there would be no suspension because replays showed Lucic had "previously entered the ice over the boards legally to join the play."
Before that news came out, Bruins coach Claude Julien didn't feel the ejection was warranted and hoped the league would sort things out without a suspension for Lucic.
"I'm not blaming [the referees] -- they're in the middle of a scrum there -- but Looch was on the ice already," Julien said. "It wasn't an illegal change; he didn't come off the bench. There are no issues there in my mind; it's clear. What's unfortunate is that we lost a pretty good player early in the game, and that's what is more disappointing: A guy looking forward to playing this game, he's from Vancouver, and he gets tossed out, but he actually didn't do anything wrong. We'll let the league, again, take care of that stuff because there's nothing more we can do."
Julien also took exception to the ejection of another of his players, Brad Marchand. At 18:47 into the second period, Marchand was assessed a five-minute major for clipping Canucks defenseman Sami Salo. Julien saw the play as a case of a player (Marchand) trying to defend himself from a blindside hit and said that maybe more players should react as Marchand did to prevent serious injuries from such plays.
"We all have our opinions on what is going on with the game and the hits and everything else," Julien said. "All I'm going to tell you is that I always told my players that they need to protect themselves. The last thing I want my players to do is get hit and then end up with a concussion, and they have to protect themselves. Whether it's the right way or the wrong way, it'll depend on how the league looks at it. I'd rather have a guy take a two-minute penalty than turn his back to the play, stand up straight, and then get his face knocked into the glass and be out for maybe the rest of the year with a concussion, or maybe end his career like [Marc] Savard.
"So I think we have to really look at those kinds of things. In my opinion, if guys start protecting themselves the way Marchand did, maybe guys will stop taking runs at other guys because that's the consequences you end up paying for taking runs at guys, too. Who knows where we're going to go with this. I know we're all trying hard to fix that part of the game, but it's still there, and it's still not fixed."
But while the Bruins bench boss was not happy with either call, he did not excuse his players for their lack of discipline and the 11 power plays -- four of which the Canucks converted into goals -- Boston allowed.
"Our job is not to assess or comment on referees," Julien said. "I'm not stupid enough to stand up here and criticize them. What I can tell you is that [Vancouver] scored four power-play goals, so we gave them an opportunity to score on their bread and butter. Instead of criticizing the referees, I would much prefer criticizing us for the penalties -- whether they're worthy or not, take the responsibility. We knew before the game started that they have a good power play, and I thought two of them, two of the goals they scored, were nice power play goals, and you've got to give them credit. The other two, I thought we could have done a better job on them."