After the Vancouver Canucks lost Game 1 against the San Jose Sharks, head coach Alain Vigneault called out the Sharks for cheating on faceoffs. The little bit of gamesmanship paid off. The linesman were a little more vigilant with foot placement the next night, and the Canucks won the faceoff battle in Game 2.
They did not, however, win Game 2. Nor did they win Game 3. Now they're on the brink of being ousted in stunning, sweeping fashion. Any additional edge they can gain to stave off elimination is welcome, and considering they've been outpenalized in all three games, that might be a place to start.
On Monday, Kevin Bieksa played the embellishment card. From the Vancouver Sun:
"Couture, you can't go near the guy, he snaps his head back, he flails," Bieksa told reporters. "You touch him after the whistle and he is going to jump off the ice and throw himself into the glass. These are hard calls for the officials to make and right now they are going against us.
"This isn't my opinion. The evidence is in the video ... Hank (Sedin) touches him off the faceoff, he does a full back arch and his glove goes flying off in the corner."
Here's the incident in question. You be the judge:
Maybe Couture's pain receptors take half a second to kick in?
Now, Kevin Bieksa plays, I remind you, for the Vancouver Canucks. He knows this. He knows the response is readymade. But the calls are already going against the Canucks in this series, and I'd argue that, at times, it's been reputation-based, so there's really nothing to lose.
Lest we claim hypocrisy, it should be noted that Bieksa's been outspoken about embellish before, even in regards to the players in his own room. “I know guys will do whatever it takes for a power play to win a game,” Bieksa said in the 2011 postseason, referring to his own teammates. “But sometimes they’re crossing that line of integrity. I think for the better of the game, for the good of the game we need people to stay on that line and not cross it, and not dive and exaggerate for calls.”
Furthermore, Bieksa was a member of the anti-diving committee at the Rules Summit, a group that brought up ideas like disseminating a list of known divers, so as to shame them into staying on their feet. In other words, it's tough to call him a hypocrite for bringing this up now when he's been speaking out against embellishment for some time.
Still, he plays on a team with Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows, two players who understand that, when the officials put the whistles away in the postseason, sometimes they need to be inspired to pull them back out again.
This is the approach that Adam Burish, a former Chicago Blackhawk that has hated the Canucks for some time, took in crafting his response.
"I guess if I was him, while I was up on the soap box and trying to save the integrity of the game and all that stuff, I might swing by player No. 14 and player No. 17," Burish said, a reference to forwards Alexandre Burrows and Ryan Kesler.
"I'd swing by their stalls," Burish continued, "and have a little talk with them about diving and integrity, that kind of thing. Then he can work his way over to our room."
'Tis a fine retort.
But if we're rating rejoinders, I award the gold star to Sharks head coach Todd McLellan, who just crushed it here, kissing up to the officials and burning the Canucks in the process. From CSN Bay Area:
“They use that word embellish, and I haven’t heard that for awhile. In fact, I think it was in vogue a couple springs ago (when Vancouver lost to Boston in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final).
“If we go back now to look at the series, we’ve been called cheaters in Game 1, we’ve been called embellishing Canadians after Game 3. If the series goes any deeper, we may be accused of biting, eventually.”
Just one more reason the Sharks will hope to finish the sweep Tuesday night.
Follow Harrison Mooney on Twitter at @HarrisonMooney