SUN Hockey Pool

The Raffi factor

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

If you wanted to throw verbal darts at Raffi Torres last night you had to get in line.

Behind Raffi Torres.

After taking two undisciplined penalties that left Edmonton two-men short on two occasions, costing them two goals and two points in a 5-2 loss that kicked their playoff chances in the stomach, Torres let himself have it with both barrels.

"A couple of stupid penalties, there's nothing else you can say about it," said a shame-faced Torres, who twice waded into situations that didn't need wading into, only to be hit with back-breaking penalties both times.

"They cost us the game. We just can't have that. It cost us two goals on five-on-threes. It's hard to swallow."

There were a lot of people at Rexall Place trying to choke this one down.

INTO THE SCRUM

With Edmonton up 1-0 on Shawn Horcoff's goal, and Ales Hemsky already going off for crosschecking Canucks' pest Matt Cooke, Torres came into the scrum swinging, leaving Edmonton two men down for a full two minutes. Moments later Daniel Sedin made it 1-1.

What should have been a painful lesson didn't sink in, however, because early in the second period, with Fernando Pisani already going off for hooking, Torres decided to give referee Dan Marouelli an earful and earned two and 10 for his troubles.

Once again Vancouver had a two-man advantage for a full two minutes and once again they made good on it, with Markus Naslund scoring at 5:26.

"Undisciplined. Stupid," said Torres. "I consider myself a level-headed guy, I don't take a lot of stupid penalties. Today I just kind of blew up. It's not like I want to (mess) up on purpose. I wanted the win."

But, largely because of him, and the fact Edmonton let the Sedin brothers combine for nine points between them, they didn't get it.

Granted, there was a lot of cheese on both calls. Singling one guy out of a scrum to put a team two-men down is very weak. And a veteran referee like Dan Marouelli should never put a team two-men down for a full two-minutes, in this big a game, for the second time, for yapping. But you can't give NHL refs a chance to screw up because too often they will.

'TOUGH TO OVERCOME'

So Torres has to wear it.

"Anytime you get in a position where you have to kill two full two-minute five on threes, it's difficult to overcome," said head coach Craig MacTavish. "We're good enough to win, but we're not good enough to overcome that type of disadvantage at this point."

But he won't hang his guy.

"You can't take the penalty is the bottom line," he said.

"But I'm not as hard on Raffi as everyone will be led to believe when they look at the box score."

When they look at the standings, though, it's getting harder and harder to take. The loss drops Edmonton eight back of the Canucks (you might as well make it nine because they've lost the head-to-head tiebreaker).

"It's a big game and the season's running out, so it's very frustrating," said MacTavish. "We wanted to take the physical play to them, and they responded, it was going to be a really good, solid hockey game."


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