- Associated Press - Thursday, June 2, 2011

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA (AP) - The Vancouver Canucks don’t understand the big fuss about a little bite.

Neither did the NHL.

Vancouver forward Alex Burrows avoided a suspension in the Stanley Cup finals Thursday when league officials decided they couldn’t prove he deliberately bit the finger of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron during the Canucks‘ series-opening 1-0 victory.

Although the Bruins weren’t terribly happy about NHL disciplinarian Mike Murphy’s decision, both teams realize they’ve got bigger issues than the after-the-whistle shenanigans that happen constantly in the NHL, particularly under playoff intensity.

After all, players have been biting, gouging, facewashing, elbowing, grabbing, spearing _ and don’t forget punching _ since probably the first period of the first game after Canada invented hockey.

“That’s how French guys say hello to one another,” joked Alexandre Bolduc, who centered the Canucks‘ fourth line in Game 1. “You want to show respect, you put your fingers in someone’s mouth.”

Daniel and Henrik Sedin were relieved that such a silly incident didn’t sideline their linemate early in what’s shaping up as a gritty, goalie-dominated series heading into Game 2 on Saturday night.

Roberto Luongo shut out the Bruins with 36 saves, and Boston’s Tim Thomas matched him in a penalty-plagued game featuring six power plays for each team. Raffi Torres finally scored with 18.5 seconds to play, giving Vancouver a series-opening victory and the accompanying 77 percent historic probability of winning its first Stanley Cup title.

“We need him out there,” said NHL scoring champion Daniel Sedin, who took eight shots without a goal in Game 1. “He plays in every situation. Big part of this team. Obviously, we’re happy to have him inside the rink.”

Burrows wasn’t made available to reporters after the Canucks‘ light practice Thursday at the University of British Columbia. The Bruins refused to get indignant about the NHL’s decision, with Boston coach Claude Julien cautioning his players against whining about a single play in a chippy game.

“I’m over it,” Bergeron said Thursday after the Bruins’ workout. “I’m looking forward to the next game. We’ve got to get back in the series. Like I said last night, it’s the league’s decision, and I’ve got to let them make it. … I don’t want to whine about that stuff. I don’t care.”

After the game, Bergeron declared Burrows had bitten him while they scuffled after the first-period buzzer, even showing his bandaged right index finger and saying he planned to take antibiotics.

In the television replay that seemingly played on an infinite loop in Vancouver’s bars and restaurants Wednesday night, Bergeron’s gloved right index finger sure appeared to go into Burrows‘ mouth. Bergeron claimed Burrows then bit down on him, but Burrows denied it.

“It’s too bad that something like that has to happen in the Stanley Cup finals,” Julien said. “I think there’s better ways of resolving issues than getting to that.”

Bergeron scoffed at the notion he had deliberately put his finger in Burrows‘ mouth. Both players had their gloves in each other’s face at different points of the scuffle.

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