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Darren Pang on D&C: Roberto Luongo ‘able to handle adversity’

NBC and Versus NHL [1] analyst Darren Pang joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup [2] finals. To hear the interview, go the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page [3].

Pang, a former NHL [4] goaltender, was asked about how Roberto Luongo [5] will respond after the Canucks netminder surrendered eight goals in Monday night’s Game 3.

“I’ve really watched him a lot and seen the way he’s reacted. Every time he’s tested, he seems to bounce back. He’s a much more resilient probably person and athlete than he was a couple of years ago. I think he’s able to handle adversity. All that being said ‘€¦ it’s tough after the game, because first of all, you’re competitive so you’re not ‘€” embarrassed is not the right word ‘€” but you’re a little humiliated, you’re humbled, and you’ve got to find a way to go forward.”

Pang said the Bruins would do well to make sure not to have any let-up in their aggressive approach so that Luongo has to prove himself immediately.

“I’m really interested to see the first 5-10 minutes,” he said. “No. 1, to see how much pressure Boston puts on him. No. 2, how confident he is in the net. Where his balance is at. Where his positioning is at. I’ve always found that if Roberto Luongo is falling down on his stomach, then that’s the time to pounce on him. Because it’s all about balance for me when I watch Roberto Luongo.

“Boston deserves a lot of credit. I thought they did an excellent job of finally getting inside. They finally put a little pressure on him. They screened him, they fired pucks high, they made it difficult for him. The first two games he was excellent, but I don’t think Boston put enough traffic or pressure in front of Roberto Luongo.”

Luongo told Canucks coach Alain Vigneault not to pull him in the rout, but Pang questioned that decision.

“My thinking would be, when it was 5-0, I don’t care what the goalie says, I’d get him out of my net,” he said. “That would just be my opinion, for a lot of reasons. The game’s gotten away. Anytime somebody could go crash the net and inadvertently fall on top of you. Somebody could bite his finger off, and he wouldn’t have a finger. So, you never know what could happen.”

Asked about the possibility of Tim Thomas [6] having a similarly disastrous game in this series, Pang said it’s highly unlikely.

“I would be very stunned,” he said. “I was stunned when it happened the other night. I guess I shouldn’t say I’d be stunned because it’s already happened once. But eight’s a lot of goals. I think the defensive mindset of both teams makes it very difficult to score that many goals. So, yeah, I would be floored if that happened, certainly against Tim Thomas, and if it happened again.

“Both goaltenders are different goaltenders. But they’re here for a reason, and they’re up for the Vezina trophy for a reason. One might be a little unorthodox at times, but he’s got a great mind for the game of hockey ‘€” I’m talking about Tim Thomas. He sees play develop, he never quits on a play. It would be the exception rather than the rule if he were to give up eight goals in a game.”

Looking at who has the edge in series, Pang said he’s softened his stance that the Canucks are the favorites.

“Before Game 1, I thought that Vancouver had the edge depth-wise,” he said. “We talked a lot in the playoffs about their depth on the blue line, and that’s proven to be a big part of the Vancouver Canucks [7]. I thought that they were the quicker team in making in-game adjustments, that they play a real good five-man-on-the-puck game. Their power play is incredible. Going in, we knew that Boston’s power play has been really ineffective. We know that. So, the special teams were certainly in favor of Vancouver.

“But now you’re watching it and Boston’s very much alive. Very, very much alive. This is another game in which they’re probably playing it as a Game 7, because going to Vancouver down 3-1 doesn’t reek of winning the Stanley Cup.

“I’m impressed with Boston. I have been throughout the playoffs. They never go away. They’ve got a real resilient mentality. And so, for that, I think we’re into a long one now. I thought Vancouver would win this Stanley Cup final in six games before it started. Now, really, I’m not quite sure. And that’s the great thing about the Stanley Cup finals.”