By Nick Craddock
Roberto Luongo has let in two goals in the three games that have been played in Vancouver during these Stanley Cup finals.
He’s been less than stellar away from Vancouver, but surely it wouldn’t get any worse for him with a chance to clinch the cup in game 6 in Boston. Well…
Luongo let in two goals in a 35-second span in the first period, three goals on eight shots and after four Boston goals in 4:14 — a record for the shortest time to record four goals in Stanley Cup history —game 6 was effectively decided before the midway mark of the first period.
In the chippiest game of the series yet, Boston eventually triumphed 5-2 and elicited “We want the Cup!” chants inside the TD Garden.
The Bruins will get their chance to appease their fans on Wednesday night in Vancouver in what should be a barn burner after another blowout in Beantown.
Perhaps more surprising than how quickly the B’s came out buzzing (somewhat expected, given that their playoff lives were at stake) was how closely the game followed the script of the past games these series.
As aforementioned, blowouts in Beantown have been a recurring theme, just as much as one-goal games in Vancouver.
The split personalities of Luongo continue to create a chasm between the Canucks’ performances on the road and at home and could cost a very talented team its first Cup in franchise history.
The most important variable in this series continues to be Luongo’s goaltending. Luongo needs to get control of his alter egos, especially the one that is responsible for poor goaltending, in a 48-hour span.
(If you have a crippling gambling addiction, reader, bet your house on Luongo starting game 7 and finishing with a remarkable effort. Don’t doubt the pattern he’s forged).
Turning point: After game 5, Luongo made the mistake of zinging counterpart Tim Thomas, who deserves no criticism for his remarkable performances in the Stanley Cup finals.
Luongo said that he probably could’ve stopped Maxim Lapierre’s winning goal in game 5, which was the result of a carom off the end boards.
“It’s not hard if you’re playing in the paint, so it’s an easy save for me,” Luongo added. “But if you’re wandering out and aggressive like (Thomas) does, that’s going to happen.”
Needless to say, Thomas came out inspired and passionate in game 6 and well, Luongo, came out with his hair well-moussed, but offered nothing more than a nice coif.
Why Luongo thought it would be a good idea to provide more motivation for Thomas, the likely Conn Smythe Trophy winner regardless of the outcome on Wednesday, is beyond fathomable.
Three Stars of the game:
- Thomas — What more can be said?
- Mark Recchi — the ageless wonder had three helpers in this game.
- Tomas Kaberle — the Boston defenseman finally made an impact the Bruins had hoped he would make more regularly when he came over at the trade deadline. He finished with two assists
Black & Decker Tool of the game: Luongo (again). Until he learns to play consistently, he best shut up and play, and stop with the erroneous smack talk.
When you’re supposedly a franchise goaltender who has been chased from four playoff games (and then subsequently outplayed by your backup on each occasion), there’s a certain level of play that’s expected from you.
If the Canucks don’t win game 7, Luongo might very well be considered a tool by every Vancouver fan until his long-term contract expires. If the Canucks win, all of his “tooliness” throughout these playoffs will be forgotten until at least next season.
Consider Luongo a model student at the LeBron James NHL Academy; while Thomas must’ve been tutored by Dirk Nowitzki at some time.
Other nuts and bolts: Mason Raymond left with an injury 20 seconds into game 6. Raymond went backwards into the boards, tailbone first and lay almost motionless on the ice for some time. He was taken from the arena to an area hospital, but his status, though bleak, is unknown for game 7.
In better news, Henrik Sedin recorded his first point of the series with a third-period goal. How in the world Vancouver has managed to survive six games throughout this series without his or his brother Daniel Sedin’s (only one goal and one assist in the series prior to his pair of assists in game 6) usual offensive output is staggering. Couple the twins struggles with an injured Ryan Kesler and the Canucks offense is staggering to the finish line and one final game.
It will be the 16th time in the history of the NHL that there will be a game 7 to decide who drinks from Lord Stanley’s Cup and the first time since 2009. With 14 game misconducts handed out thus far, game 7 will surely bring both team’s emotions to a tipping point.
There’s nothing like game 7 in playoff hockey. This has been an incredibly entertaining series and with the NBA season finished, all eyes are on the NHL right now. It should take advantage of the spotlight with a terrific game 7.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.