SAN JOSE, Calif. — It was a masterful performance by Kevin Bieksa.
With the Canucks struggling to win faceoffs and struggling to score and on the brink of being swept in their Western Conference quarterfinal series, the defenceman switched the talking point on Monday.
The manner in which the San Jose Sharks are using embellishment to draw penalties and fuel a potent power play that has struck four times was the basis of Bieksa’s beautifully timed delivery.
And if it results in the supposed embellishers being penalized on Tuesday in Game 4 — Bieksa cited Logan Couture and Joe Thornton as the guilty parties in Game 3 — then the Canucks believe it could lead to a Game 4 win.
It was a bold and calculated move by Bieksa because Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows are usually the targets of embellishment angst by the opposition. Now it’s Couture and Thornton in the Canucks’ crosshairs.
“It doesn’t take away the fact that it (embellishment) is happening by their two guys,” began Bieksa.
“We’re being undisciplined but those two guys are doing whatever they can to get on the power play. I don’t look at the past. I look at this series and we haven’t embellished calls.
“The (Sedin) twins gets hacked and whacked and slashed more than anyone and if they ever try to draw a penalty, they’re called on it by everybody. They (Sharks) are making it tough on the officials because these are tough calls to make. They’re not sure of the extent of the damage and whether they got them on the wrist with a slash.”
The head snap seems to be today’s go-to embellishment move. It used to be the dive, but that gets called.
So over-reacting to any slight contact seems to gain maximum attention from referees.
“Couture has been snapping his head back and this isn’t my opinion, the evidence is in the video,” continued Bieksa. “Hank (Henrik Sedin) touches him off the faceoff and he does a full back arch and goes flying off in the corner from getting this (stick) off the side of the face and that doesn’t make your glove fall off.”
Bieksa was just getting warmed up. Next up, Jumbo Joe.
“Thornton takes his glove off (on a phantom Dan Hamhuis slash) and shakes his hand and draws a huge 5-on-3 for them,” added the blueliner. “Those are two Canadian guys who are supposed to be playing the game with integrity. Maybe our team has to do more of that, maybe we have to sell calls.”
Bieksa did admit the Canucks played right into the hands of the Sharks on Sunday by not maintaining a level of composure to avoid taking or being sucked into infractions.
“Absolutely,” he said. “After the whistle stuff, we can’t have any of that anymore. We have to learn our lesson and go from there. They have good power play but we have to make them earn their chances. Obviously, the onus is on us to be more disciplined.”
Or be swept.
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