Canucks prove gutless against Hawks
The Vancouver Canucks have long been known as a team that will crack under the strain, succumb to the pressure and ultimately choke away a chance to win the Stanley Cup.
But now they've shown the entire NHL they're gutless, too.
Raffi Torres tops the list and Kevin Bieksa isn't far behind.
They're both fairly typical of the "new" NHL, which has created an environment where players aren't held accountable.
The players used to police these matters and settle scores -- think Darren McCarty-Claude Lemieux and Dirk Graham-Vlad Konstantinov -- and the game was safer because of it, but now the league would rather have Torres running around trying to end careers and never force him to answer for it.
John Scott had every intention of putting Torres in his place Tuesday night late in the game, but as he engaged Torres at the faceoff circle, referee Dan O'Rourke tossed them both, robbing the Hawks of a chance to set things straight.
That's maddening enough -- and you wonder why Scott didn't wait until the puck dropped -- but then Bieksa suddenly became a tough guy with Scott gone for the night.
He jumped legendary enforcer Viktor Stalberg and began throwing punches before Stalberg even knew he was in a fight.
Wow, Bieksa is some brave man. Does he kick kittens, too?
About 10 minutes earlier, Tanner Glass refused to fight Scott, and when he couldn't get Glass involved, Scott waited too long to have a conversation with Bieksa, who feigned hearing loss and wouldn't even look at Scott -- the equivalent of going into the turtle.
Why does the phrase, "Hiding behind your mom's skirt," come to mind?
Meanwhile, how did referee Brad Meier fail to call the instigator on Bieksa? He pretended not to see it because it carries a one-game suspension when it occurs in the final five minutes.
Nice job, fellas.
And then there's Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault, who's as weak as his players and encourages this spineless behavior.
You think of a guy like Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, who had James Wisniewski on the ice at the end of a game against the Hawks in March 2010 to answer for an earlier hit on Brent Seabrook.
Wisniewski knew what was coming and got the better of Nick Boynton, but that wasn't the point. Carlyle didn't want carry-over so he didn't protect Wisniewski or hide him on the bench.
That's the NHL Carlyle knows, but in Gary Bettman's NHL, Torres gets no suspension, Scott gets tossed and Vigneault has Bieksa on the ice to go after an unsuspecting Stalberg.
You can see where the Canucks get their guts.
Hopefully, this series goes long enough for the Hawks to make it right.
If not, they better have long memories.
Speaking of weak, the mentally fragile Roberto Luongo could have pulled himself at the end of the second period down 4, or even after the first goal of the third that put his team behind 6-1.
Instead, he waited until a scrum broke out 200 feet away and slithered off to cower on the bench while the UC crowd had its attention focused on other matters.
This is one strong group of men.
Case for defense
Brian Campbell leads the team in giveaways, is last in hits and was the worst Hawk for three games.
And while his poor defense is never a surprise -- like on the Canucks' first goal Tuesday -- an offensive defenseman is supposed to shoot the puck and he was passing up far too many good looks through three games.
It drives the Hawks' coaching staff nuts when the defense is unable or unwilling to get pucks to the net, but that's something they finally did in Game 4.
After getting 1 point with 4 shots and a minus-4 through three games, Campbell had a goal, a post, 3 shots and a plus-4 in Game 4.
No one expects him to play defense, but Campbell can help in a huge way offensively when he gets pucks to the net and joins the play the way he did Tuesday.
The Bulls can't figure to win again Thursday shooting 39 percent and committing 21 turnovers like they did Monday.
"The mistakes are usually a result of too much 1-on-1 (and) risky passes," said coach Tom Thibodeau. "We have to sustain our spacing through the second and third option.
"Sometimes (the Pacers) are coming quick to get the ball out of (Derrick Rose's) hands. We have to get to our spots quicker and be more decisive and move the ball better.
"The second pass is gonna get you wide open shots and you have to be there."
Party in the Park
Is it really only 15 days until the opener at Arlington? There's free admission on May 6 to kick off Derby weekend, and the first 5,000 get a coupon for a hot dog/drink for a penny.
With any luck at all, it will stop snowing by then.
Miami Herald's Greg Cote, on Mike Tyson: "Not a lot of people know the former boxer races pigeons. I'd imagine the pigeons usually win."
And finally ...
Omaha World-Herald's Brad Dickson: "When Yankee outfielder Andruw Jones crashed into the outfield fence, he was showered with onion rings. Now CC Sabathia and Joba Chamberlain are looking for any excuse to crash into the wall."
• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.