Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Vancouver GM blasts officiating

Categories: Chicago Blackhawks, VAN vs. CHI, Vancouver Canucks

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Vancouver Canucks' general manager Mike Gillis speaks to reporters in Vancouver on Monday. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press) Vancouver Canucks' general manager Mike Gillis speaks to reporters in Vancouver on Monday. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Taking a page from Brian Burke's book, a fed up Vancouver GM Mike Gillis spoke out against the officiating. All season long the Canucks preached composure when it came to their relationship with officials. But with a Game 7 on Tuesday, after blowing a 3-0 lead in games, Gillis essentially said enough was enough.

Gillis told the NHL he was going to address it and then blasted referees in a wide-ranging discussion with the media Monday. At the core, Gillis said the Canucks have not been competing on an equal ice surface.

"I felt if it was a level playing field we would have won the game," Gillis said of Game 6. "We were lucky to get into overtime with the way things occurred in the game.

"With us to come away with a loss is shocking to me. I'm very confident if we play the same way tomorrow evening and it's a level playing field, we'll win the game."

One of the most difficult things to understand is why there has been such a power play discrepancy in the series. The Chicago Blackhawks have had 11 more power plays and a penalty shot. No other series has a disparity which is even close.

"I'm sure how you explain that discrepancy," Gillis said. "We're going to be very hard-pressed to win hockey games if through an entire series when the score is tight, they get 75 per cent more power plays than we do. That's just the reality and the facts we're facing. When you break down the [Sunday] video, there are some extraordinary plays to explain with what has gone on.

"I don't know how to explain it. I'm just giving you the facts. It's easy to stand here and be emotional and look at the hit like the Bickell one on Bieksa and jump up and down and scream and yell. These are facts. They're undeniable. People think we don't have a killer instinct. It's pretty tough to have it when you're killing penalties all the time."

Luongo the go-to guy

Head coach Alain Vigneault tried to end any debate about who his starter will be in net Tuesday. Vigneault, who misdirected the media leading up to Cory Schneider's surprise Game 6 start, insisted Roberto Luongo will get the nod. Vigneault said he told both goalies before Game 6 that no matter what happened Luongo would start in the do-or-die series finale.

"Roberto's handled the big stage before, he'll be fine," Vigneault said.

Though many see this as the biggest game of Luongo's NHL career, he wasn't willing to go that far. Luongo beat the Dallas Stars in a 2007 Game 7 but the stakes weren't nearly as high because the expectations weren't nearly what they are this postseason.

"I've seen a lot but obviously this is a big one, no doubt about that," Luongo said. "It's a great challenge for us. We have to take advantage and we have to enjoy it. It's fun to be part of a Game 7."

Bickell out

Bryan Bickell won't have to worry about any sort of payback for his controversial hit on Kevin Bieksa. Much like Raffi Torres on Brent Seabrook, Bickell took a run at Bieksa in a hit which could be considered a head shot. But when Bickell hit him he was already playing with severed tendons in his wrist. He underwent surgery Monday and is expected to be out three weeks.


There are three things that changed the series. One was Jonathan Toews post-game comments when he suggested the Canucks were frauds after Game 3. He said they were not as good as everyone thought. He made it clear to his teammates he believed the Canucks had weaknesses they hadn't yet exploited. It help pump his team with confidence.

The second key in the comeback was the Torres hit on Seabrook, or more accurately the NHL's decision not to suspend Torres. This infuriated the Hawks and became a motivator.

The biggest impact, however, was Dave Bolland's return to the lineup. Since coming into the series in Game 4, he has only enhanced his reputation as the Sedins' enemy No. 1. He has frustrated them, and outscored them. It was the same story last year and the year before.

"I'm pretty sure if I'm going to go there on a vacation, it wouldn't be nice," Bolland said about Vancouver. "They probably wouldn't let me in, once I got to the border. I do think most people do recognize me [in Vancouver]. It's probably not the nicest things they say, but it's always fun going there and playing. The atmosphere and everything that goes on in Vancouver is great."

Luongo answered questions about Bolland after Game 4 by saying he didn't think he could turn the series around.

"I heard about that," Bolland said.

Bolland didn't only badger the Sedins, he ran over Dan Hamhuis in a thunderous, and clean, hit Sunday. It had more meaning because Hamhuis rubbed Bolland's head out and into the boards in Game 5. Some saw the Hamhuis hit as cheap, especially because of Bolland's recent concussion problems.

"I thought it felt better than a goal," Bolland said of the goal. "He's a great player and when all that stuff went down, nothing was intentional ... [had] nothing to do with anything. But it's good to get another lick back."