BOSTON (CBS) — A lot has changed since June 2011 in both the Boston and Vancouver franchises, yet when the Bruins and Canucks face off Tuesday night at TD Garden, it’s safe to assume that the high emotions will pick up right where they’ve left off in the only two rematches since that Stanley Cup Final.
In the last two meetings between the Bruins and Canucks, there’s certainly been an added level of intensity when the two teams have taken the ice. When the Canucks ran away with a 6-2 win in December, it was Brad Marchand’s charades show that was most remembered. And the last time the Canucks came to Boston, there were fights and ejections galore.
Both teams will admit that there’s no great explanation for why the feelings from the seven-game series in 2011 still linger, but they don’t deny the emotions are still there.
“I think there’s definitely some hatred for that team, and they have it for us,” said Brad Marchand, perhaps the member of the Bruins who has most annoyed the Canucks. “I think any time you’re playing a team and you’re on the ice, you’ve gotta have that feeling. You’ve got to want to hate the other team, and that’s what makes you want to push so hard to win that game. I think it’s safe to say that you kind of hate every team when you’re out on the ice.”
While that may be the case, it’s taken to another level with the Bruins and Canucks. Marchand knows that very well, as he was ejected and eventually suspended five games for his low hit on Sami Salo in January 2012, and he pretended to lift the Stanley Cup and kiss his championship ring during the Bruins’ loss in Vancouver in December 2013.
“It’s tough in games like that, there’s so much adrenaline and guys are running around a bit and there are some cheap shots going on,” Marchand said Monday. “They’re fun games to be a part of, and emotions normally run high, and that’s usually when things like that happen.”
Marchand, who’s always considered to be at his best when he’s playing “on the edge,” saw a turnaround in his production after the Vancouver game.
“I think I felt good that game, but it just seems like after that, things started clicking a little bit better. I wouldn’t say it’s because of that game, but after that it just seemed like I scored a little more,” Marchand said. “It was more just the fact that before that, it was a little hard to get emotionally attached to games. After that game, I felt like I was more involved and my head was in the games more, and my emotions were there a little more. When I do that, I feel better, and I think that’s partially why I’m playing better.”
Though Marchand was spoken to by head coach Claude Julien and general manager Peter Chiarelli for his on-ice antics in Vancouver, the coach knows what makes Marchand tick.
“I think a lot of teams have those players, and some of those players are actually pretty useful to their team sometimes,” Julien said. “They can give your team a good jolt and they can wake them up, but there’s also times where you’ve seen that it plays against you. I think it’s about being smart, picking the right times and the right spots and going from there. It’s a fine line for those players that play that kind of a role.”
Milan Lucic, a Vancouver native who was attacked outside of a bar after Boston’s loss in December and who was ejected from the January 2012 game for leaving the bench to fight, was asked if the rivalry has an expiration date.
“We’ll see, right?” Lucic said. “It seems to still be there. We’ll see what it’s like once the puck drops, if it’s still there. I’m sure it’s still going to be there.”
But for as much as the “bad blood” talk makes for a good story line, the Bruins know the most important thing on Tuesday night will be earning a win in what is their third-to-last game before the Olympic break.
“It’s fun being a part of those games,” Marchand said. “There’s a lot of emotion, and those are the games that people want to see and the games you want to be a part of, and I’m sure it’s going to be a hard-fought game tomorrow. … I think the fans are going to be really excited about it, and obviously we’re not happy with how we played last game against them, so we’re going to want to have a big game. They’re big points for our team, so we’ve got to make sure we go after them hard.”