There were a lot of people discussing how Cory Schneider should start Game 5 instead of Roberto Luongo. As a Bruins fan, I wish that had been the case.
However, as I pointed out to those who chose to debate this topic with me on Thursday and Friday, you do not sit a guy who has carried you in the playoffs, who has proven he can bounce back from bad starts (especially at home), and has played in big game atmospheres before for a guy who has not played a real game in weeks and has never been in a really high-pressure game (sorry, one game in the opening round against a team you should beat is not a high-pressure game).
Alain Vigneault agreed, and Luongo did what I expected – he played great. Luongo made 31 saves as Vancouver took a 3-2 series lead with a 1-0 win over Boston at Rogers Arena. Luongo did not do it alone, as his defense also stepped up its game. Kevin Bieksa looked great, and Christian Ehrhoff played his best game of the finals as well. Rookie Chris Tanev played a solid game and did not look the least bit nervous, and even Sami Salo showed up to play for the first time in the series.
Luongo also got some help from the Bruins, who played a lackluster game, avoiding the physical style that helped them dominate Games 3 and 4. In addition, they did not swarm in front of Luongo, leaving him a unobstructed view of the puck on virtually every shot.
Of course, instead of being at least a little humble or thanking his teammates for sticking by him, Luongo used his post-game comments to criticize Tim Thomas. Who has been twice the goalie Luongo has been in the series.
Luongo opens mouth inserts foot
“It’s not hard if you’re playing in the paint,” Luongo said. “it’s an easy save for me, but if you’re wandering out and aggressive like he (Thomas) is, that’s going to happen. He might make some saves that I won’t, but in a case like that, we want to take advantage of a bounce like that and make sure we’re in a good position to bury those.”
Forget the fact that that, in Games 3 and 4, Luongo let in goals that most high school goalies could stop. Just why would Luongo do this? He is self-absorbed. He cannot stand the fact that Thomas has not only outplayed him, but also the fact that Thomas does not have a “style” like Luongo, the fact that Thomas worked his way into the league and did not have everything handed to him, and the fact the media has lauded Thomas’ hard-nosed and mentally-tough play while criticizing Luongo’s lack of toughness in Games 3 and 4.
In other words, he is like a 10-year-old kid whose brother is getting more attention.
Just like his coach, Luongo has yet to figure out that challenging Thomas does not distract him, it only makes him better. The Bruins also rally around each other, as they have done also season. I would fully expect the Bruins to do that once again and go after Luongo hard on Monday night.
Just think what it is going to do to his ego when Thomas wins the Conn Smythe, no mater what happens over the next two games, and then beats Luongo for the Vezina in a few weeks.
Poor Roberto. After Vancouver fans cheered his benching and actually called for Schneider to start, he finally plays a game good enough to earn some credit, and then opens his spoiled, all-about-me mouth and ruins it. Enjoy Game 6, Roberto. See you in Vancouver on Wednesday night.