War of Words

Following Game 3 Sunday night in Calgary, Kevin Bieksa was asked if Flames forward Michael Ferland is under the skin of the Vancouver Canucks.

“Who suggested that? Them?” smirked Bieksa. “I think he’s pretty irrelevant so far.”

Through three games Ferland has one assist, 18 hits and 19 penalty minutes. Irrelevant may not have been the best word to use as Ferland has helped with Calgary’s grit, but in terms of being a player Vancouver is focusing on, Bieksa nailed it – he’s irrelevant.

Ironically, Bieksa may actually be the one under the skin of the Flames.

The photo above is of a sticker that was placed on the door of the Flames media production room near the Canucks dressing room at the Scotiabank Saddledome. A cameraman noticed it first, he told a photographer, who told me. And here we are.

No one knows who put the sticker there or when, but it more than represents everything right and wrong with this series so far.

The trash-talking element of it is golden, there’s no arguing that. Clearly this presumed Flames fan feels Ferland is very relevant and he’s making an impact, and his voice has been heard.

The photo chosen to taunt the Canucks is where things go sideways. A poor picture choice indeed as Ferland is catching Luca Sbisa with a shoulder, sending him head-first into the boards. It was charging or boarding or aggravated assault (kidding), they called it a clean body check.

Moving on.

Neither Bieksa and Sbisa had anything to say when I showed them the photo, but you better believe this bulletin board material will be in the back of their minds during Game 4 Tuesday night.

The message out of the Canucks room after practice Monday was that they’re focused on getting away from the post-whistle battles and instead playing their game. Whether or not they can execute their game plan and take Game 4 remains to be seen, but if the nastiness of this series downgrades to feistiness, it’s a dream series come true.

Facing a team in the playoffs has the potential to create a new rivalry or spark an existing one and that’s exactly what’s happening here.

The Canucks and Flames haven’t played meaningful hockey against each other in years and they’re more than making up for it so far. And we’re not even halfway through the series, should the full seven games be needed.

It’s too early in the series to be riding high on anything; fitting that today of all days someone was a little too high on Ferland and the Flames.

Stay classy everyone.

Derek Jory (@NoJoryous)

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