Rough around the edges

Series is starting to show a nasty side

By Barbara Matson
Globe Correspondent / June 6, 2011

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The competition is keen for the sharpest tongue in the Stanley Cup Final.

The first two games of the best-of-seven series were intense battles, with Vancouver claiming both victories by a single goal. The taunting has been just as fierce.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault tossed out a zinger yesterday during the team’s brief stop at TD Garden when he was asked whether the Bruins’ physical style slowed down his players in Game 2, particularly Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa.

Vigneault first disputed an assertion that the Bruins were the more physical squad.

“We’re hitting as hard as they are,’’ said Vigneault, whose team had 40 hits to the Bruins’ 31 Saturday night during a 3-2 overtime victory. “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.’’

Then Vigneault snapped off a stinging barb.

“Kevin [Bieksa] didn’t get hit, he got a cheap shot in the back of the knee so that’s totally different,’’ said Vigneault of Rich Peverley’s slash on Bieksa as the two came out of the corner in the Canucks’ zone during the second period of Game 2, a move that drew no penalty from the officials. But it drew Vigneault’s ire.

“He went down because of something that obviously you don’t want to see in the game,’’ said Vigneault, snapping off his words.

Bieksa crumpled to the ice in pain before limping off. He later returned to the game.

“I’m sure everybody knows what happened and they’ll keep a better eye on him next time,’’ Bieksa told the Vancouver Sun after the game.

“There’s such a thing as karma. Whether it’s next year or the year after, he’ll get something from somebody else. He got me on the back of the knee. Luckily, it’s OK.’’

There was no word from the NHL disciplinarians yesterday about punishing Peverley, despite calls for suspension from Canucks partisans.

Peverley’s slash was hardly the only unpunished misdemeanor of the series. Vancouver’s Alex Burrows, the man behind the bite, was the first to engage with his Game 1 chomp on the finger of Bruin Patrice Bergeron. The bite appeared evident on television replays, but was not penalized, either during the game or with a suspension by the league.

Then came Maxim Lapierre’s taunts in Game 2, when he took time during a scrum to wiggle his fingers at Bergeron, as if to tempt the center into taking a bite.

Yesterday, Lapierre had nothing more to say.

“I’m not going to comment,’’ Lapierre said of his finger waggle.

Pressed again, and again, Lapierre shrugged. “Everybody’s got their own judgment,’’ he said. “That’s all right. That’s what makes the playoffs fun.

“It’s going to be a loud and exciting game.’’

Lapierre, who frequently played at TD Garden when he was a member of the Canadiens, knows the hometown crowd will be in full voice tonight for Game 3, but he dismissed the effect on his team.

“I’ve played a lot of playoff games in that building,’’ said Lapierre. “It’s unreal energy, they’ve got great fans. We’re going to have to be ready for a huge start from them.

“In the playoffs, I don’t think all that stuff matters. You want to win so bad. It’s all about being on the ice, you don’t hear things.’’

Boston fans angry at Burrows, who not only did not draw a suspension for his overbite, but scored twice, including the winning goal, in Game 2, are sure to let the winger hear their complaints.

Vigneault was not worried about crowd taunts at Burrows, or any other players for that matter. He expects the Garden crowd will be loud and proud.

“I expect this crowd to be behind their team,’’ said Vigneault. “I mean, this is an Original Six city. Passionate for their hockey. I’m sure their fans are going to be real supportive, just like our fans are in Vancouver. You have great cities, two beautiful places really where you have two hockey teams that are competing real hard on the ice.

“Both games that we’ve seen so far have been extremely tight, extremely hard fought by both teams. I don’t think anything’s going to change here as we move to Boston.’’

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