Donaldson: Cup finals now a series to sink your teeth into

Jun 7 2011 - 6:34pm

BOSTON -- Mark Tincombe clearly has a good sense of humor, if not exactly a strong sense of self-preservation.

There he was Monday afternoon outside the TD Garden, wearing a Vancouver Canucks jersey and a hockey helmet, carrying a homemade, foil-covered replica of the Stanley Cup, standing beside the revered statue of Bobby Orr.

On his right hand, Tincombe was sporting a blue hockey glove, with a bandage taped around the index finger. Smiling broadly, he playfully reached up and stuck the finger into the open mouth of the statue.

Which was like sticking a finger in the eye of Bruins fans still irate over the fact that the Canucks' Alex Burrows clearly bit Patrice Bergeron's finger in Game One, but wasn't suspended for Game Two and wound up scoring the game-winning goal 11 seconds into overtime.

So it was that the Bruins took to the ice Monday night for their first Stanley Cup finals game in Boston since 1990 trailing in the series, 2-0, in search of their first Cup since 1972.

No surprise, then, that the building was chock-full and rocking at the start, although the sellout crowd quickly quieted down five minutes into the game when Nathan Horton was leveled as he crossed the blue line by defenseman Aaron Rome.

Horton never saw Rome, who hit him high with his shoulder and elbow, drawing a game misconduct penalty. The NHL turned that into a four-game suspension on Tuesday.

In any event, Horton lay on the ice for close to 10 minutes before being removed on a stretcher. He spent the night at the hospital for observation and was released Tuesday morning.

That should have fired up the Bruins, but, despite having a man-advantage for five minutes following the penalty to Rome, their consistently pathetic power play once again failed to score.

And they easily could have ended the period down, 1-0, had Thomas not made a tremendous save on Mason Raymond just in front of the net with just over a minute to go.

The second period, however, belonged to the Bruins, who blitzed the Canucks for four goals.

Andrew Ference scored on a slap shot just 11 seconds in, after which the B's added not only a rare power play goal, by Mark Recchi, but also a hustling, shorthanded goal by Brad Marchand. The B's further padded their lead when David Krejci put home the rebound of Michael Ryder's shot from the blue line. It was Krejci's 11th goal of the playoffs, tops on the team.

Before the game, Orr's statue, which depicts him flying through the air after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime as the Bruins swept St. Louis to win the Cup in 1970 -- Boston's first in 21 years -- was a virtual magnet for fans of both teams, who came to look at it, touch it, be photographed next to it.

"This is a hockey town," said Ben Gill, a mortgage advisor from Vancouver who, in 1994, drove 42 hours, non-stop, to New York City to watch his beloved Canucks play the Rangers in the Cup finals.

"The fans here are passionate, and they know who's who and what's what. They've got the roots. Look at this statue of Orr. That shows proper respect."

Older, wiser, and wealthier now -- but still just as fanatic about his favorite hockey team -- Gill decided to fly, rather than drive, to Boston last Friday and watched Game Two on Saturday at that bastion of Bruins hockey, The Fours, a restaurant/bar across from the Garden on Canal Street.

"It was a zoo," he said. "Bruins fans who saw my (Canucks) sweater kept holding up one finger at me. I guess they were trying to tell me the Bruins are No. 1."

The atmosphere was more congenial at the establishments along Canal Street as supporters of both teams enjoyed a late lunch before Game Three.

Fans wearing Canucks sweaters even sat with fans wearing Bruins gear. Although, upon further investigation, most of those mixed tables were made up of friends who'd come down from Canada for the game.

Benoit Mondor, born and raised in Montreal, was wearing a Bruins sweater with "Habs (unprintable)" on the back.

"I wore it to Game Seven in Montreal in 2008, when we lost," he said.

Obviously a brave man, Mondor was sharing finger food with a guy wearing a Vancouver jersey, Craig Doornbos, a friend from Ottawa.

When Mondor was asked if he was worried that Doornbos might bite him, it was Doornbos who quickly responded: "I should worry about him. He's French-Canadian. You know that's how French-Canadians say hello."

That was in reference to the comment made by the Canucks' Maxim Lapierre, in the wake of the Burrows biting incident.

As for Tincombe, in addition to his sense of humor, he also has a sense of right and wrong.

Truth be told, he feels your pain -- and that of Bergeron, as well.

"Burrows should have been suspended for a game," he said. "The NHL is run by buffoons. You can't bite somebody and get away with it."

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