|06.15.11 at 2:38 pm ET|
This series, he’s had an easy time at Rogers Arena, picking up a couple of shutouts in games in which the Bruins’ offense didn’t show up. He’s also shot his mouth off, and when he’s tried to make it better, it’s gotten worse. Then there are the 15 goals he’s allowed in three starts (less than two games’ worth of play given that he was yanked twice) in Boston.
As a result of Luongo’s up-and-down (but overall messy) series, local boy and Canucks backup Cory Schneider has also been popular. He’s gotten to play twice in Boston, and he’s done so well. Yet the former Boston College goaltender and first-round pick seems sure that he’ll stay on the bench the entire game Wednesday.
“Lou is more ready than anybody. He’s had to take the most flak, he’s had to sit there and listen to people mock him and insult him and point fingers at him,” Schneider said. “It’s not easy to do. I don’t care how much you get paid or if you’re a pro athlete or what. No one likes that stuff. It fuels him, it drives him. it makes him want to be better. We’ve seen it before in gold medal games and Game 7’s, he’s answered the bell in big moments. We expect nothing less from him because he’s our guy.”
Schneider received cheers in Games 4 and 6 when he skated to the net in relief. Of course, the love thrown at Schneider in Boston is both a combination of the fact that he’s a native and the fact that when he’s in, Luongo’s out.
“They’re a rowdy crowd and they feed off that stuff,” Schneider said of the folks at the Garden. “They kind of pander to the crowd and get them more riled up every time they show him on the bench. They kind of get whipped into a frenzy about it, but we’re not in Boston right now, so who cares? We’re in Vancouver right now. Lu’s been phenomenal here, and our crowd is great as well. We’re going to hope that they’re going to get on [Boston’s] guys and their players and make it easier for us.”
Tonight will see the culmination of a series between two stylistically different goaltenders who have found ways to dominate in their own ways. Both Tim Thomas and Luongo are Vezina finalists, with Thomas set to receive the award at the end of the month. The B’s goaltender also figures to win the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP.
Schneider has been able to observe both goaltenders, as he played at BC while Thomas was tending goal for the B’s. Though he doesn’t know Thomas, Schneider admires the uphill climb he has overcome as a ninth-round pick who has spent time playing in Europe.
“Clearly the path [Thomas] has taken has been one of obstacles and difficulty that he’s overcome and has managed to find a way,” Schneider said. “That kind of seems to be the theme of his game, is that he finds a way. He’s a competitor and a battler, and we’re going to need everything we have tonight to get a few past him and get a win.”
Having said that, Schneider doesn’t feel Luongo, the fourth overall pick in 1997, should be blamed for traveling an easier road.
“I don’t think you can hold it against him that he was a high draft pick or has a great pedigree. He worked hard for that, he earned that right,” Schneider said. “He’s been a competitor and a warrior from the day I’ve met him. He’s one of the most competitive guys I’ve seen. He hates to lose. He hates giving up goals, he hates all that stuff. People might see it as arrogance, but I see it as confidence in himself, as a belief that he shouldn’t be beaten ever. I think you have to have that mindset as a goalie that if you’re not 100 percent confident in yourself, you’re not really in the right position.”
|06.15.11 at 2:38 pm ET|
Former NHL player and current Vancouver sports radio host Ray Ferraro joined Mut & Merloni Wednesday to preview Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals and give some perspective from the Canucks fan base. To hear the interview, check out the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Ferraro said that despite another Boston blowout in Game 6, Vancouver fans aren’t too worried about their chances Wednesday.
“I was really surprised, they’re actually very confident. I don’t know if they even watched Game 6,” he said. “I guess they put their faith in the fact that it’s almost been like two completely different books for this series. … For the life of me, I can’t figure out why it’s been such. Vancouver’s been so bad in Boston and Boston hasn’t been able to punch through here in Vancouver, so I guess that’s what it’s all about, Game 7, you play all year to get home-ice advantage and the fans here, they’re pretty happy that it’s in Vancouver.”
“I think [Vancouver fans] were, almost to a person, disappointed with Luongo’s comments after Game 5,” he said. “Where it really went sideways was the next day at the airport. He had the chance to kind of soften the blow a little bit and say, ‘You know, it’s not really what I was trying to say, this is what I was trying to say …’ But he didn’t do it, so that’s one thing. And then you come out and you last eight minutes in Game 6, you know, you get torched.
“I don’t think the fans here are really thrilled with that. I do know there’s no player I can think of on either team that gets scrutinized more in their hometown than Luongo. I can’t think of a Bruin player who would be under as much heat as Luongo is here. And not just in this series. Almost since the day he’s been there.”
|06.15.11 at 2:08 pm ET|
This series has been filled with a level of controversy saved for only the best. The Alexandre Burrows biting incident, Aaron Rome‘s knockout hit on Nathan Horton, and Roberto Luongo‘s Game 5 postgame comments immediately come to the minds of Bruins fans. But what do Vancouver fans have to complain about?
The referees have been blatantly favoring the Boston squad, according to Tony Gallagher of The Province, a newspaper in British Columbia.
“Stated simply, the Bruins can virtually do anything to any Vancouver player with total impunity until after the game is won,” Gallagher wrote. “At that point, they then get their fair share of penalties. Further, they can do anything to any Vancouver player after the whistle while it’s still a game and nothing is called unless there is a flagrant retaliation by the Vancouver player. At that point both infractions are called. Boston of course gets lots of penalties late, with the game decided, to make it look like they might even be getting shafted in total calls. But that’s a familiar NHL pattern.”
Gallagher went on to cite Game 6 hits from Johnny Boychuk and Patrice Bergeron, as well as a scuffle that included Brad Marchand, whom he called “the little Bruin,” landing six consecutive punches on Canucks left winger Daniel Sedin.
|06.15.11 at 2:00 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — In the “how is this news?” moment of the day, here’s a good one.
Bruins coach Claude Julien didn’t even let a reporter finish his question Wednesday in Vancouver when the topic of Nathan Horton potentially playing in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals was brought up. The coach said there was no way Horton would be playing, a statement so obvious that the fact it became a story up here speaks volumes to how badly the media up here gets carried away. After all, Horton was diagnosed with a severe concussion just over a week ago and was ruled out for the rest of the playoffs.
“Let me cut your question short,” Julien said. “Absolutely no. It’s ridiculous. So let’s put an end to that.”
A television station in Vancouver turned Julien’s quote from Tuesday about Horton wishing he could play into a report that “Horton was trying to convince the Bruins to let him play in Game 7.”
So no, Horton is obviously not playing. It’s astonishing that even had to be said.
|06.15.11 at 1:52 pm ET|
Turco has been a guest analyst for NHL Network since his team was eliminated by the Canucks in the opening round. Chicago, the defending Stanley Cup champion, fell behind 3-0 in the series before rallying to force a Game 7 that Vancouver won 2-1.
Turco made it clear that he doesn’t like the Canucks’ brash style.
“That’s where it really got me, was when we were in Chicago and they’re up in the game, and they’re running their mouths, and they are real cocky,” he said. “Never mind that my team beat them the two previous years, knocked them out. You think they’d learn their lesson and just go about their business, but that wasn’t the case. It was quite interesting to watch us come back and know that we had them. We know that they’re playing differently.
“It was eerily similar in this [Bruins] series. I didn’t see them as cocky as they were going up 3-0 against their arch nemesis, but certainly they faltered. You can’t blame [Roberto] Luongo, you can’t blame just one person. You’ve got to blame everybody, from top to bottom. They just weren’t able to show up on the road.”
Asked about the Bruins’ strategy to get to Luongo, Turco said: “The game plan is always the same: Score often, score early. That would certainly be their best asset. Just continue to put pressure on him, take shots. Sometimes, pucks hit goalies that might not be 100 percent confident early in the game. That’s what they need sometimes. I think he’ll actually play really well. I think it’s going to be another tight game here in Vancouver. I know Bruins Nation would love another blowout. ‘¦ I think it will be a pretty good one.
“They just need to continue to get in front of the net. I don’t think they were doing that early in the series, and certainly on the road. ‘¦ They’re going to have to fight to get in front of the net. We saw those goals, some tip-ins, some screens. Those types of goals are harder to come by, but you just have to follow through and work to get there.”
|06.15.11 at 1:38 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — Both the Canucks and Bruins players have provided enough drama for the Stanley Cup finals without the press exaggerating their words the way the players have exaggerated plays to get penalties.
Yet the media up here pulled a bit of a Maxim Lapierre this week when they turned Daniel Sedin saying he was confident his team would take Game 7 into a guaranteed victory.
“We’re 3-3 and we won all three games at home and we have the fourth game at home,” Sedin, who used the words “will win,” told the Vancouver Sun. “So we have the seventh game at home and we’ll take that. We are confident.”
The Canucks’ alternate captain wasn’t pleased with the idea that he guaranteed victory, and said Wednesday that expressing confidence at home is different from providing a guarantee.
“I didn’t do that,” he said. “I said if we bring our best game, I like our chances. You can never guarantee anything in life, but I can guarantee you that we’re going to bring the best tonight. That’s been good enough in 99 percent of the games this year, and I hope it’s going to be enough tonight.”
Said coach Alain Vigneault: “Well, what did you expect him to say? We’re in this to win. Daniel is one of our leaders on our group and believes in the group. He expressed it. I think it’s a normal thing to do at this time.”
Asked where he was when he found out that he’d guaranteed a Game 7 victory, Sedin could only laugh at the path his words have taken.
“That’s media making a big deal out of it. If we play our best, I like our chances. If guys want to take that as a guarantee’¦” Daniel said, finishing the sentence with a puzzled shrug and a laugh.
|06.15.11 at 1:18 pm ET|
With the Stanley Cup finals clincher getting closer, here are a few statistics worth noting about Game 7:
— The home team is 12-3 all-time in Game 7s in the Stanley Cup finals.
— Canadian teams are 4-0 all-time at home in Game 7s during the Stanley Cup finals.
— The Canucks have won six straight games at home. They had two streaks of six straight wins at home during the regular season but never got to seven straight.
— No team has ever won three Game 7s in the same playoff year.
— The Bruins have never won a Game 7 on the road in any playoff series. They are 0-4, with the last loss coming against the Canadiens in 2008.