Maxim Lapierre has heard it before.
Whether by past reputation as a yapper and scrapper or his strong present-day presence for the Vancouver Canucks, the centre draws attention because he's hard to play against mentally and physically. Lapierre often gets targeted on and off the ice, but the magnitude of a heated rivalry with the Chicago Blackhawks has taken gamesmanship to a new level.
Daniel Carcillo used an Aug. 8 press conference after he signed with the Blackhawks as a launching pad to toss more gas on the fire that doesn't need stoking. He said he wanted a piece of several Canucks, but should have done his homework because he named Tanner Glass and Raffi Torres, who both departed in free agency. However, he placed Lapierre at the top of his hit list and just how this plays out today at the United Center is one of many subplots as the clubs meet for the first time after a memorable seven-game playoff series last spring.
"I'm actually pretty excited to play them because I think there are a few guys there who played a little bit out of their shoes," Carcillo said of the first-round series. "I can keep most of those guys in check."
Back from a two-game suspension for running Joni Pitkanen into the end boards on Oct. 28 and coming off his first goal in 28 games, the agitator has added to the Blackhawks' tradition of having at least one guy who keeps you looking over your shoulder. They had it in Ben Eager and now they have it in Carcillo who seems ready to take on anybody in the first of four meetings with the Canucks.
"That's all right," shrugged Lapierre. "We know he plays his role and he might be the 500th guy in the league who has said that. I'm used to it and I enjoy my role. I don't know what he's doing and I really don't care about him.
"Our focus is to win the game. We know we have to be physical on every shift. It's pretty much the same thing we had against Washington. It's a good challenge and we know how good a team they are and if there's a time to get out of trouble, it's to play good against these kinds of teams. We know we're going to be ready. It's going to be a real fun game to play in."
Carcillo fought 13 times last season and according to hockeyfights.com, he lost a bout with Dale Weise and scored a decision over Mike Duco.
"We're going to do what we've got to do to win the game," added Luongo. "If he wants to run around, hopefully he'll take some penalties."
Maybe Bieksa put it best. A win today will go a long way to improve a 1-2-0 record on a six-game road trip, but any time these rivals bang heads it's never dull.
"I don't think it really matters, said Bieksa. "This game was going to be a big one no matter what. Obviously a rival of ours and we have a little bit of a history with them and it will be an emotional game."
Strangelove wrote:Ebbett - Manny - Hodgson (Hodge Podge Line)
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