Did Roberto Luongo give the Boston Bruins some more bulletin board material during his post Game 5 press conference?
It sure seemed that way. After the Canucks won 1-0 on Friday night to take a 3-2 series lead in the Stanley Cup Finals, Luongo, who stopped all 31 shots he faced in Game 5 and recorded his second shutout of the series, had some interesting things to say about the goal Maxim Lapierre scored on Tim Thomas to give the Canucks the win.
Talking about his game during his press conference after the game, Luongo fielded a question in regards to the Lapierre goal Thomas let in that eventually become the game winner.
The exchange went like this:
Reporter’s Question:Roberto, can you talk about from a goalie’s perspective how difficult it is to play a shot off the endboard?
Luongo’s Response: It’s not hard if you’re playing in the paint. It’s an easy save for me, but if you’re wandering out and aggressive like he does, 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.
Thomas came out earlier in the series and said he wasn’t going to give up on his aggressive style of goaltending. Luongo, who’s been facing his own scrutinies during the playoffs, might have been taking a moment to revel in his post game glory. That’s fine. When you’re as thoroughly picked apart by the press and fans as much as Luongo has been during the playoffs you’ve gotta be pretty happy not to worry about what negative thing you’re going to hear said about you next.
It’s just that you don’t want to rile up the beast. The Bruins already rallied together after Nathan Horton got concussed by an Aaron Rome hit that sent him out of the playoffs. Hearing an opposing goalie that gave up 12 goals in two games and was pulled in one of them say negative things about your starting goalie, well, that’s going to give the head coach and players more motivation to come out and play harder the next game.
Sports is full of stories of athletes holding grudges and coming out playing harder than usual after hearing other players say disparaging things about them or questioning their talent or desire to play.
Luongo might have realized that after he said what he said about being able to stop Lapierre’s goal as he quickly followed it up by saying that there are some saves that Thomas makes that he’d have no way of making himself. It might have been a little too late though.
The Bruins have now have a bit more motivation to take out the Canucks in Game 6 on Monday night and force the series to a deciding Game 7 in Vancouver.
It’s kind of ridiculous to think that Luongo would smack talk Thomas. But he did. Just look at the numbers and you’ll see why nobody should be saying anything bad about Thomas, who might come away with the Conn Smythe Trophy, even if the Bruins lose… During the playoffs Thomas has a 2.07 goals against average and a save percentage that stands at .937. Luongo’s GAA is 2.43 and he has a .919 save percentage.
During the Stanley Cup Finals Thomas has been even better in the six games that have been played so far.
Thomas’ stat line reads like this: 1 Shutout, 6 goals against, 165 saves, .963 save percentage, and a 1.2 goals against average.
Again, Thomas’ stat line, minus shutouts, is much better than that of Luongo’s, who in the Stanley Cup Finals has: 2 shutouts, been pulled once, given up 14 goals, made 141 saves, has a .904 save percentage, and a 2.33 goals against average.
The numbers pretty much speak for themselves. The trash talk doesn’t. Even if Luongo felt like he could have made that save he should have kept quiet. How many goals did Luongo let in that Thomas probably thought he could have saved in Games 3 and 4? Who knows because Thomas didn’t say anything.
If the Canucks come out swinging in Game 6 and Luongo plays spectacularly on the road and they clinch the Stanley Cup then no one will remember what Luongo said after Game 5. If that doesn’t happen though it’ll be interesting to see if Thomas will have anything to say after Game 6 if the Bruins win and he outplays Luongo.