WILMINGTON — The last time the Vancouver Canucks visited Boston, Jan. 7, 2012, there were 18 penalties . . . in the first period. It was a game filled with rancor, the bad blood left over from the teams’ Stanley Cup faceoff just six months before. That was understandable.
But it was more curious when those feelings continued in the team’s next matchup, almost two years later, the feud simmering through time and distance.
“There’s just so much emotion that came out of the Cup Final that year,” said Brad Marchand, one of the chief instigators. “Obviously it was very intense — it was a hard-fought battle. So that’s not something you just let go, especially with both teams having a lot of guys who played in the Final.
“It makes this interesting.”
Asked if the word “hate” could be used to describe the feelings between the teams, Marchand said, “I think there’s definitely some hatred for that team. And they have it for us.”
Though Marchand did qualify that by saying that he believes the Bruins hate every opponent, it seems like there’s quite a bit more reserved for Vancouver.
And while coach Claude Julien downplayed the rivalry — “Most of us have turned the page and are moving on with that,” he said — his players didn’t quite seem to feel the same way.
“It seems to still be there,” Vancouver native Milan Lucic said. “We’ll see once the puck drops if it’s still there and if it’s still going to be there.
“It’s there just because of the bad blood and all the emotion that was in that Final. There’s still guys that were big parts of that Final that are still on the same team. I think that’s what makes this rivalry continue, but we don’t want to make too, too much of it like we did going into the Montreal game [last week] and then play the way we did. So I think we’re just focusing more on our game and how we need to play moreso than the rivalry.”
While there wasn’t quite as much brawling in their most recent game, on Dec. 14, that one did feature Marchand miming kissing a Stanley Cup and kissing a Cup ring, earning the ire of the Canucks. It was after that game that Ryan Kesler accused Marchand of having “no class.”
“Just emotions ran high and things happened,” Marchand said. “Obviously it wasn’t — if I go back — probably not something I’d do again.
“It’s a learning experience. Everything you do is a learning experience. You want to try and take the positives out of it. I know not to do that again. It was a little disrespectful, but at that point in time my emotions were running high and things happen. So, try to stay away from it, but I just want to try to be a little nicer.”
For Marchand, that disrespectfulness might actually have been a good thing. Though initially it earned him a talking-to with his coach and general manager, it also seems to have been the springboard that returned him to his former self, at least in terms of production.
Through the Vancouver game, in 33 games, Marchand had five goals and nine assists for 14 points. In the 21 games since, Marchand has 12 goals and seven assists for 19 points.
“It just seems like after that, things started clicking a little bit better,” Marchand said. “I wouldn’t say it’s because of that game, but after that it just seemed like I scored a little more.
“It was more just the fact that before that it was a little hard to get emotionally attached to games. After that game it felt like I was more involved and my head was into 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.”
As much as he tries to avoid agitating — and as much as his bosses would like him to, sometimes — that’s when Marchand is at his best.
“I’ve tried to get away from it at times and my game’s just not the same,” he said. “My emotions aren’t there and I’m just not as involved. When I do that stuff I just feel more involved and feel like I’m more into the game and definitely have more fun out there.”
That’s why games like the ones against Vancouver are, usually, the toughest ones for Marchand to keep his cool in — with the adrenaline and emotion and, as he put it, “cheap shots.”
“A lot of guys do [that stuff],” Marchand said. “Obviously I get yelled at a lot for it, but it’s part of the game. A lot of guys are doing it out there, but I think I do it a little bit more. I think that’s why I catch a little more heat for it. But they definitely do it. You can see before I did that stuff in Vancouver two guys were grabbing my face. It’s not just me out there. They’ve got some bad guys out there, too.”
Consider yet another shot fired.
Warsofsky called up
The Bruins recalled David Warsofsky Monday. With the Providence Bruins headed to St. John’s, the team wanted the defenseman with them as he readies to replace Zdeno Chara this week. Chara will miss games at St. Louis and home against Ottawa to be the flag bearer for Slovakia in the Olympics’ opening ceremony this week. “The last few games he played with us, he seemed to get better and better,” Julien said of Warsofsky, a left-shot defenseman. “We were certainly happy with the way he played, especially his last game in Ottawa. He seemed to play with a lot of confidence, he carried that puck well and made good plays, and obviously scored that goal. Just his whole game was good and he moved the puck well.” . . . Part of the reason the Bruins need Warsofsky is that Adam McQuaid isn’t ready to return. McQuaid was the only Bruin missing from practice Monday, which makes him “doubtful” to play before the Olympic break, Julien said. “He was only going to start skating sometime this week, so he’s been out too long for me to throw him out there,” the coach said. “I would be very surprised if you see him here.”