Problem out of the blue
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — “Bitegate’’ wasn’t the only controversy that came out of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. In addition to the incident in which Patrice Bergeron accused Canucks forward Alex Burrows of biting his finger, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t pleased with the amount of real estate Bruins goalie Tim Thomas covered.
Thomas frequently leaves his crease to challenge shooters, and although he’s very effective, the Canucks believe he’s taking liberties.
“Our goaltender [Roberto Luongo] always plays in the blue, stays in his ice,’’ said Vigneault. “Their goaltender is always out of the blue and come into other people’s ice. We’re going to need a little bit of clarification there, especially when he’s initiating contact with our team.’’
Canucks backup netminder Cory Schneider, a former Boston College standout, said he wasn’t sure what his teammates were supposed to do if Thomas keeps leaving the crease.
“He’s kind of putting himself in a vulnerable position,’’ said Schneider. “Yeah, you’ve got to respect the goalie, he’s trying to get his space and make saves and play his style, but at the same time you have to respect our guys who are trying to do their job in front of the net. Just because he runs into us, if we get a penalty for that, I don’t know what our guys are supposed to do about that. It’s kind of a Catch-22. I don’t know what they’re going to do about it but I think they should definitely look at it.’’
Forward Jannik Hansen, who set up the winning goal Wednesday, said Thomas’s style differs from other netminders.
“Obviously, he plays a little further out than other goalies we’ve seen,’’ said Hansen. “But again, you can’t take runs at him even though he is outside. So it’s a matter of being a little more careful but if he’s out there, there should be room around him and behind him so it’s something we can take advantage of as well.’’
Hamhuis injury Vigneault was terse when asked about the condition of defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who left Game 1 early in the second period after delivering a hip check to Milan Lucic. He said only that Hamhuis, who forms a potent shutdown defensive pair with Kevin Bieksa, was day to day.
It seems likely that Keith Ballard, who last played in Vancouver’s deciding game over San Jose, would be the first choice to step in if Hamhuis is unable to play tomorrow night.
“We have a lot of confidence in all our players,’’ said Vigneault, when asked about having to make personnel adjustments. “Right now, we have Keith, Andrew Alberts, and Christian [Ehrhoff] that have played some minutes with us this year and have done a real good job. If we need somebody to play minutes, I’m confident they’ll be able to step in and do a real good job.’’
Veteran blue liner Sami Salo said the Canucks can only worry about who can play because all teams have injuries to deal with.
“It’s obviously nothing new this year,’’ said Salo. “I think we’ve gone through 14 defensemen, so it obviously shows the depth of this team but everybody is comfortable playing really with anybody. Danny is obviously a big part of this team but other guys stepped in big time [in Game 1].’’
Good omen? The Canucks have won the opening game in each of their four postseason series. Salo said it was a function of being as ready as possible.
“It’s tough to pinpoint,’’ said Salo, “but obviously we’ve prepared ourselves very well before each series and the focus has been on trying to put our best game on the ice from the first game and get everybody else settled in.’’