O'Brien says Canucks have to be tougher in Game 3
Vancouver defenseman Shane O'Brien feels he and his teammates can't let Chicago get in goaltender Roberto Luongo's face in Game 3.
Chicago forward Adam Burish said before Game 2 that the best way to rattle Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo was to run him or to spray snow in his face.
True to his word, he and Ben Eager sprayed enough snow on Luongo after a first-period whistle to make a snow blower jealous.
Whether the tactic of driving the net and getting under Luongo's skin worked or not, the Blackhawks came away with a 4-2 victory to even their best-of-7 series at one win apiece -- and the Canucks came away upset with the tactics that resulted in their goaltender getting knocked down on more than one occasion.
"I'm only speaking for myself here, but I think we're being a little too soft on them definitely in front of the net," O'Brien said. "The refs seem to be letting them do whatever they want to Lu. Their guys are going hard to the net and snowing him and bumping and slashing him. So we need to do better job of getting in front of him. We have to play a lot grittier and a lot meaner."
The Blackhawks controlled the play in Game 2 after falling behind 2-0 in the first 5:02 of the game. But O'Brien was far more concerned with the Canucks' intensity and how tough it is to toe the line between turning the other cheek and letting another team push them around.
"I was upset more with the way we didn't respond back physically and emotionally," O'Brien said. "There's been a lot of talk of the fine line of not scrumming it up and this and that. But at the end of the day, we're playing for the Stanley Cup here. You got to push back and show them that you want it. Whistle to whistle, we have to be a lot meaner and a lot grittier. They put their meat in the lineup last game and they did their job."
That "meat" -- Eager, Burish and Andrew Ladd -- was grilling Luongo all night in Game 2. Besides the spraying, Eager gave Luongo a shot to the head after he left his crease to gather the puck.
How hard is it for O'Brien to keep his cool when he sees that sort of thing?
"It's very tough," he admitted. "I talked to Lui and he said that stuff doesn't bother him. He's our captain and he's our leader, so if he says it's not bothering him, it's not bothering him. I'm having a hard time with some of the stuff they're doing, but we're all a team here and we got a game plan and we're going to stick to it.
"I don't like any of it to be honest with you. They're not calling it right now and obviously they're going to do whatever they can to get in Lui's face. Lui's playing pretty good right now, so you have to get them credit. That's their job. That's Ladd's job, that's Eager's job, that's Burish's job."
O'Brien didn't put a bounty on Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi or make any threats the way Burish did before Game 2, but he said some sort of reciprocation might be necessary of the Blackhawks continue to take liberties with Luongo.
"If the refs are going to let it go, we're going to have to do what we can to get in (Niemi's) face down there," O'Brien said. "We have to be as tough as we can on him because right now they're letting them go to the net and get their bumps and whacks in."