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Cup Finals heat up with verbal jabs heading into Game 6

by | CBSSports.com
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BOSTON -- One team is a win away from its first Stanley Cup in franchise history. The other can force Game 7 when the series resumes here on Monday.

Despite those high stakes, the chatter and on-ice behavior between the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins has been about what you might find at your local pickup game, typically the ones where teenagers show up and try out some new moves they found on YouTube.

Not that those of us reporters are complaining. It gives us something to write about, even if we should be scrutinizing transition games or offering up suggestions for both teams' inept power plays. The best verbal jabs in this series could only be heard by the players and the men in stripes, although Bruins goalie Tim Thomas was asked Sunday to react to some comments from his counterpart.

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"I guess I didn't realize it was my job to pump up his tires," Thomas cracked. "I guess I have to apologize for that."

A day removed from Canucks goalie Robert Luongo's assertion after Vancouver's 1-0 victory in Game 5 that he would have stopped the lone goal of Friday's contest, he hinted that Thomas hadn't give him enough. I'm not sure how you can blame the guy; Luongo did surrender 12 goals to just one by Thomas in Games 3 and 4. So, Thomas really could have only "pumped up" Luongo's tires if he was interviewed after the first period of Game 3, the only period Luongo didn't allow a goal in Boston. Luongo was on his 10-speed Sunday, backpedalling as fast as he could away from his comments made the prior two days.

"Listen, I know we're in the Stanley Cup Final and everything is under the microscope and going to get blown out of proportion," Luongo said. "Obviously, my whole comment I don't think was a negative comment if you take the whole comment. But at the end of the day, I'm one win away from winning a Stanley Cup and that's all I really care about now. All the other stuff is noise to me and doesn't really affect what's going to take place for me tomorrow night."

Off the ice, there have been some references to the Canucks' diving, being a little too aggressive after the whistle and some complaints that Thomas is allowed to much leeway to roam in front of his crease. The Canadian Press also reported earlier in the series that Bruins coach Claude Julien took a run at Vancouver's Maxim Lapierre, who he said wasn't appreciated by the opposition or his teammates.

"It's one of the reasons he played for three teams this year," Julien said.

'I'm one win away from winning the Stanley Cup and that's all I really care about now,' says Roberto Luongo. (Getty Images)  
'I'm one win away from winning the Stanley Cup and that's all I really care about now,' says Roberto Luongo. (Getty Images)  
Julien said his team wouldn't tolerate some of the antics the Canucks' Alex Burrows and Lapierre perpetrated early in the series, although his players -- including Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi --- unleashed some taunts of their own. It got so chippy -- and, frankly, embarrassing -- that Mike Murphy, the league's senior VP of hockey operations, spoke to both teams before Game 4 and told them to cut it out.

Things may not have gotten to that point had Murphy suspended Burrows for biting the finger of Boston's Patrice Bergeron in Game 1. Then again, he likely made his point with a four-game suspension of Vancouver's Aaron Rome, who was effectively banned for the rest of the playoffs for a check that left Boston's Nathan Horton hospitalized with a severe concussion.

Nobody can be blamed from either team for the most inflammatory line so far this series. That came from NBC/Versus analyst Mike Milbury, who called the Sedin twins Thelma and Louise.

"I don't care about Mike Milbury," Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "I could care less about his analysis. You have a guy in Henrik who won the Art Ross and the Hart Trophy last year and you have Daniel, who can potentially [win the Hart] this year. It couldn't be the furthest thing from my mind right now."

Granted, this is only my seventh Final, but this has to be one of the more heated I've seen -- especially considering there's no way anybody could call these two rivals.

The Bruins and Canucks, separated by more than 3,000 miles, played each other only once this season. Blame some of the heated verbiage, fiery players -- including Burrows, Lapierre and the Bruins' Brad Marchand -- and the violent collision that sent Horton to the hospital for making this feel like the Montreal Canadiens will enter TD Garden on Monday night for a chance to win the Cup.

Instead, it's the Canucks who could become the first Canadian team in 18 years to win the chalice. Lord Stanley’s Cup will be somewhere in the building Monday and will be polished as the game ticks down, at least as long as Vancouver hasn't been blown out like the first two games here.

The fact that the Canucks can clinch it in Boston won't add any special meaning. At least, so they say.

"That's not my mindset to rub it in anybody's face," Lapierre said. "I just want to get the job done tomorrow and get ready for a big game."

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