BOSTON -- If the Boston Bruins can find a way to make these Stanley Cup finals a long series, their greatest hope in winning is the wear and tear their physicality might bring on the Vancouver Canucks.
Ryan Kesler left Game 2 for a few minutes Saturday night after taking a whopping hit from Johnny Boychuk. Kevin Bieksa was hobbling in pain after taking a two-handed slash from Rich Peverley. And, of course, Dan Hamhuis missed Game 2 with an undisclosed injury after delivering a big hit on Milan Lucic in the series opener.
Hopefully we won't see any more two-handed slashes, but the overall point remains that the Bruins (for our money, the most physical team in the NHL) must continue to pound away at the Canucks to have any chance.
"Playing physical is part of our success and it's part of our identity," Lucic said Sunday after the team arrived home from Vancouver. "They've shown, too, that they're going to play physical and they're not going to get pushed around. That's what has made this series so far such a battle. We need to keep playing physical, that's for sure."
[+] EnlargeKevin Bieksa
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireKevin Bieksa took a two-handed slash from Boston's Rich Peverley in Game 2, but returned to the game.
Lucic is correct in his assertion that the Canucks have not backed down from Boston's punishing style. But the reality is Vancouver isn't built along the same lines. That's why the Canucks are the faster and, quite frankly, more skilled team. Putting players through the boards isn't generally Vancouver's game, but don't tell that to Canucks coach Alain Vigneault.
"I think if you look at the stat sheet at the end of the day, we're hitting as hard as they are," said Vigneault, whose team outhit Boston 40-31 in Game 2. "If you look at the stat sheets throughout the playoffs, we're the team that's got the most hits. That's part of our game. Kevin didn't get hit by Peverley; he got a cheap shot in the back of the knee, so that's totally different. He went down because of something that obviously you don't want to see in the game.
"But at the end of the day, we know that they're a big, physical team. We can play a speed game, but we can also play a physical-type game, which I think we've shown throughout the playoffs."