BOSTON – The fan stood on Causeway Street, staring through the wrought-iron fence outside TD Garden. He didn't have a ticket for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. But he had a Boston Bruins hat on his head, a Tim Thomas(notes) sweater on his back and a new Tim Thomas Fathead in a shopping bag, a life-size image of a man who has become larger than life in this city.
Ed Colomey, a 41-year-old from Northborough, Mass., also had a newly acquired distaste for the Vancouver Canucks. How bitter would it be in Boston if the Canucks win Game 6 on Monday night – if Alexandre Burrows(notes) and Maxim Lapierre(notes) and Aaron Rome(notes) and Roberto Luongo(notes) and all the other Vancouver villains hoist the Cup on the Bruins' home ice, after the bite and the finger-wagging and the hit and the embellishing and all the talk?
"It'll be disgusting to see," Colomey said. "But I believe it's not going to happen."
No. Not now. Not here. Not against these guys. It's easy to feel the animosity for the Canucks in this city, sparked quickly and fueled steadily in this series by all the antics and the coverage of them, and though there is the tension that always comes with an elimination game, there is also a stubborn belief that the Bruins will bounce back and force a Game 7 on Wednesday night in Vancouver. At least.
The Bruins bounced back in the first round and beat their ancient rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, in seven games. It was the first time in 27 tries that they had come back from a 2-0 series deficit. It was only the ninth time in 33 tries that they had beaten the Habs in a series.
Then they bounced back from last year's debacle in the second round – blowing a 3-0 series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers, then a 3-0 lead in Game 7 – by sweeping those same Flyers. Then they bounced back from a 1-0 series deficit to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games in the Eastern Conference final.
And now, if they're going to win their first Cup since 1972, they're going to do it by bouncing back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 in the final series, and they're going to do it as underdogs against a team that wears blue and green but would look better in bleu, blanc et rouge. Heck, the word Canuck is a slang term that means "a Canadian, especially a French Canadian." Here, the Canucks might as well be the Canadiens.
"Remind me of Montreal," Colomey said. "They're cheap players and always diving, just poor sports."
Burrows? He was born in Pincourt, Quebec. He grew up rooting for the Habs and hating the Bruins. He started the nonsense in this series by biting the right index finger of Bruins center Patrice Bergeron(notes) in a scrum after the first period of Game 1. He got pummeled by Thomas late in Game 4 after slashing the stick out of the Boston goalie’s hand, and he got nailed for an embellishment penalty for one of his flops in Game 5.
Lapierre? He was born in Saint-Leonard, Quebec, and played for the Habs for five-plus seasons. He mocked Bergeron by offering him his fingers in Game 2, and he doubled over as if impaled after being tapped in the belly by Bruins captain Zdeno Chara(notes) in Game 5, laughably trying to draw a spearing penalty.
Rome? He was born in Nesbitt, Manitoba, so he's Canadian, not Canadien. But he delivered a devastating, late shoulder to the head of Bruins winger Nathan Horton(notes) in the first period of Game 3, knocking both of them out for the series – Rome with an unprecedented four-game suspension, Horton with a concussion. Horton scored the winner the last two times the Bruins faced elimination, and now they won't have him when they need him most.
Luongo? He was born in Montreal itself. He dared comment on the playing style of Thomas after Game 5, saying he would have made the save on the lone goal of a 1-0 Boston loss because he plays deeper in his net. That was blown up into an insult of Thomas, though I read it as an honest comment about goaltending – or as a shot at his own critics, if at anyone. Then he was portrayed as whiny and needy when he said he had praised Thomas but Thomas had shown him no love in return, though I read it as though he just saying he had been unusually nice, not negative.
That doesn't even include Henrik Sedin(notes), the Canucks' Swedish captain, who has flopped to the ice trying to draw penalties, or Kevin Bieksa(notes), a Canadian defenseman, who derided the Bruins' tradition of passing a jacket to the hero of each game by saying that's something peewee teams do.
It is generally ignored or overlooked in Boston that the Bruins (19) actually have more Canadians on their playoff roster than the Canucks do (16) and that the Bruins aren't exactly angels, either.
After Bruins coach Claude Julien said before Game 3 that Lapierre's finger-offering gesture wouldn't be acceptable in Boston, two Bruins did it that very night – Mark Recchi(notes) to Lapierre, Milan Lucic(notes) to Burrows. Rich Peverley(notes) smacked the back of one of Bieksa's knees with a wicked slash. Brad Marchand(notes) has taken down Canucks with a slew foot, a clothesline and a submarine, and after one incident, he wiped his hands as he skated by the Canucks' bench. Julien and his players keep saying smack talk doesn't matter, yet they can't resist firing back smack of their own.
We could go on. Neither of these teams have the moral high ground. Both are mired in the muck. That's not the point, though. Fans usually turn a blind eye to the sins of their own team, but they aren't always this incensed by the antics of the opposition – especially when it's a team Boston has played only once all season, and not even in the Bruins’ building – and this situation is especially hard to stomach at this time and place.
The Bruins have outscored the Canucks 12-1 at home. But their three losses all have been on the road, by one goal, in the third period or overtime, and the Canucks' heroes have been their villains.
Thomas has allowed only six goals in five games, the penalty killers have gone 24-for-25 and the Bruins have held the Canucks' top players – Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin(notes) and Ryan Kesler(notes) – to three points combined. The Bruins have scored 14 goals themselves.
No small feat. The Canucks led the league in offense, the power play and defense in the regular season. The Sedins have won back-to-back NHL scoring titles – Henrik last season, Daniel this season. Kesler just broke out with 41 goals.
But ruffian Raffi Torres(notes) scored with 18.5 seconds left in Game 1 to give the Canucks a 1-0 victory. Burrows had two goals and an assist in Game 2, a 3-2 Vancouver victory, including the winner 11 seconds into OT. And while Luongo pitched his second shutout of the series in Game 5, look who scored the winner: Lapierre. Boston Globe columnists took turns calling him "the ex-Habs dive artist," "the ever-annoying Max Lapierre," "the villainous Max Lapierre" and simply "a former Montreal Canadien."
No. Not now. Not here. Not against these guys. Colomey, the fan on Causeway Street, can't imagine it. At least he doesn't want to.
"It'll be amazing when we win the Stanley Cup," Colomey said with conviction. "I don't think we'll lose to them."
"But if we do," he continued, "it'd hurt."
- the Bruins