It's the Stanley Cup, not the World Cup

Bruins forward Tyler Seguin is pushed over Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo by defenceman Sami...

Bruins forward Tyler Seguin is pushed over Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo by defenceman Sami Salo during Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final in Vancouver, B.C., June 10, 2011. (ERIC BOLTE/QMI Agency)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:05 AM ET

VANCOUVER - Went to a Stanley Cup final game here on Friday night and a soccer game broke out.

That's not a good thing.

Approximately one year after Mexico and South Africa were kicking off World Cup 2010 at state-of-the-art Soccer City in Johannesburg, the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks tangled in Game 5 in front of the usual raucous throng in Vancouver.

For those of us sitting in the Rogers Arena press box fortunate enough to have been in South Africa 12 months ago, watching some of the humiliating theatrics being turned in down below led to a sad conclusion.

Indeed, it was as if we were seeing the World Cup on ice.

At least when it came to shameless diving and acting.

Let's be clear about one thing. These antics have been performed by both teams. Whether it's Alex Burrows, Maxim Lapierre, Henrik Sedin, Brad Marchand or Tim Thomas, it's really an embarrassment to what is the greatest sport in the world.

This is not an issue that is unique to the modern-day NHL.

Back in the 1970s, the Philadelphia Flyers' Bill Barber was notorious for taking dives, some of them so exaggerated that he almost looked like Bobby Orr flying through the air after his Cup-winning goal against the St. Louis Blues in the 1970 final. It got to the point that whenever a player would dive like that, the old-time scribes would look up and say: "That guy just Bill Barber-ed."

Four decades later, here we are, in what should be the showcase of the sport, having to watch -- and write -- about embellishment.

For the Bruins, Marchand and Thomas have done their share of it. During one point of the second period, Ryan Kesler nudged a Bruins defenceman into Thomas, who plunged to the ice as if he'd been cross-checked.

You could argue that Kesler might have interfered by lightly shoving the Bruins blueliner, which is exactly what the officials called. But you can also bet that Thomas' Fosbury flop certainly sold the call.

Which brings us to Lapierre and Burrows.

Lapierre is an agitator. He does it well. He flaps his gums, he gets in the faces of his opponents and he gets under their skins.

Fair enough.

But his act in Game 2 -- mocking Patrice Bergeron by thrusting his fingers in the direction of the mouth of the Boston forward -- is the type of thing that will cause referees not to give him the benefit of a doubt in the future.

That was the case in the first period of Game 5.

While Lapierre was yapping at Boston captain Zdeno Chara during a stoppage in play, the Bruins captain poked his stick in the gut of the chatty Canuck.

Lapierre immediately keeled over as if he had suffered multiple broken ribs. The officials merely watched the whole thing, figuring it was all an act.

To no one's surprise, Lapierre did not need to go to the hospital. Instead, two periods later, he stuck to hockey and it paid off in the first goal of the game.

Full credit to him.

Hopefully it's a lesson that Alex Burrows will learn too.

Burrows would be the pick here as the Canucks top candidate for the Conn Smythe as the playoff MVP. He's scored some huge goals, including overtime winners against Chicago in Game 7 and Boston in Game 2.

But his involvement in Bite-Gate was totally unnecessary. He's a better player than that. As linemate Henrik Sedin said recently: "Alex doesn't have to do that stuff any more."

Yet, there he was in Game 5, flopping again. One of those, whick took place in the faceoff circle after being tripped by Milan Lucic, earned him an unsportsmanlike conduct minor late in the first period.

In the second period, Burrows was legitimately cross-checked in front of Tim Thomas. The Bruins should have been penalized. But because Burrows had embarrassed the officials, they put their whistles away.

This series has been great theatre except for the theatrics. Enough already.


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