BOSTON — Alex Burrows and Max Lapierre don't have nameplates in the Boston Bruins dressing room, but their presence was felt before Game 3 between the Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks.
"Everyone's obviously talking about their agitators," said Bruins forward Chris Kelly, letting out a sigh as that last word lingered, waiting for sarcastic air quotes. "They're doing their job because you guys are talking about it. But they're not brought up too much [amongst the Bruins].
"And here I am ... talking about them again."
Burrows, long considered one of the NHL's most preeminent pests, changed the dynamic of this series when he bit Patrice Bergeron's finger in Game 1, escaped punishment from the NHL and then factored in every goal of the 3-2 Game 2 victory. Lapierre, just as heralded an agitator, taunted Bergeron about the bite in Game 2.
Here's what Lapierre said prior to Game 3, after the Canucks' skate. Or, more to the point, what he didn't say.
So the Canucks have done their part to get under the Bruins' skin in this series, while the Bruins have yet to return the favor. Is it time for Boston to bug the Canucks out of their comfort zone in this 2-0 lead?
Here's what Coach Claude Julien had to say on the Canucks' pest act:
Q. The biting incidents have taken on lives of their own. I want to talk to you more about Max Lapierre taunting with the finger. What do you think it says about sportsmanship or lack of sportsmanship?
COACH JULIEN: I can't really talk about their team. I'm going to talk about mine because I don't handle those players. I don't deal with those players on a one-on-one basis. It really isn't up to me to I guess comment on it. If it's acceptable for them, then so be it. Certainly wouldn't be acceptable on our end of it. I think you know me enough to know that. Not much I can say on that.
The NHL rules on something. They decide to make a mockery of it, that's totally up to them. If that's their way of handling things, so be it. Again, we can't waste our time on that kind of stuff. We really have to focus on what we have to do. The last time I looked, we're down two games to none, and all our energy has to go towards that.
That's the message from the coach, and it appears it's the message from his players, too.
Said defenseman Adam McQuaid: "We've been focusing on ourselves. Not them. That's what we've done throughout the playoffs so we're not going to change."
Forward Shawn Thornton, whose presence in the lineup was a mystery this morning, said the Bruins shouldn't play into the Canucks' hands.
"I don't know if agitating … it goes both ways this time of year. We want to play hard but you don't want to be the guy who puts his team down. But we have to be better in a lot of areas."
That said, the Bruins do have a few players who can play the pest role. But one of them, forward Brad Marchand, said he's tried to avoid that role in this series.
"I'm trying to stay away from it, for the most part. I think they plays right into their hands. They're pretty good at doing that stuff," he said.
In the end, Kelly said none of the Bruins should go out of their way to find retribution.
"I think some guys will go out there and play their game, if that's part of their game. There's no sense in having guys go out there and all of a sudden be a pest or an agitator if that's not their style of play," he said.
"The common goal here is to win. Not to get someone back for some stupid antic."