BOSTON — Alain Vigneault is trying like heck to prove he can be every bit as effective at head games as his Tampa Bay counterpart Guy Boucher from the Bruins’ last postseason series.
Like a baseball manager questioning whether an opposing pitcher is doctoring the ball or a batter is using too much pine tar, the Vancouver head coach is looking for any psychological edge he can find to help his team solve Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas.
Today after the teams’ morning skates at TD Garden in preparation for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, the subject of Thomas’ check on Canucks center Henrik Sedin in Game 3 was brought up to Vigneault. The bench boss used that question to steer the topic back to Thomas’ play outside of the blue area.
“We asked the league. Part of Thomas’ way of playing is playing out of the blue paint, initiating contact, roaming out there. He seems to think that once he’s out, set, makes the save, that he can go directly back in his net without having anybody behind him,” said Vigneault. “Well, that’s wrong. He’s got the wrong rule on that. If we’re behind him, that’s our ice and we’re allowed to stay there.
“We’ve talked to the NHL about that. We’ve talked to the NHL about him initiating contact like did on Hank. They’re aware of it. Hopefully they’re going to handle it.”
I’m sure Boucher would watch Vigneault’s press conference and say “well played.” As for the rest of us, maybe we should find out if the coach wants some cheese with his whine.
It’s doubtful, though, that these mind games will affect Thomas or the rest of the Bruins, since they already vanquished the master of psychology Boucher in the last round.