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With hockey world focused on Roberto Luongo, Cory Schneider shines in first start at TD Garden 01.07.12 at 6:44 pm ET
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BC product Cory Schneider made 36 saves Saturday. (AP)

When Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault announced Friday that oft-maligned goaltender Roberto Luongo would not be in net for the Canucks’ rematch against the Bruins Saturday afternoon, the focus remained squarely on Luongo. Why would he back out of a game in which he would have a chance to prove himself? What was he scared of?

Meanwhile, backup Cory Schneider, a Marblehead native and a Boston College product, somehow flew under the radar while criticism of Luongo owned the airwaves, blogs and newspapers.

Although much of the pregame discussion surrounded Luongo, Schneider was the star Saturday afternoon. He marked his first Garden start as an NHL goaltender with a win, stopping 36 shots to help the Canucks top the Bruins, 4-3.

But while Schneider remained largely ignored before the game (although not by his 15 friends and family members who would be coming to see him play), the start in Boston was no minor deal for Schneider.

“It’s a fun building to play in and, again, it was fun for me to play in front of people who have grown up cheering for me and supporting me my whole life,” Schneider said.

“To come back and get this type of opportunity in front of a lot of friends and family and people at home watching, it was really cool. I think it’s even more special since we don’t come here very often. I’m glad we got the win.”

The 25-year-old had played at the TD Garden before. He was the beneficiary of the home crowd cheers from 2005 to 2007, when Schneider and the Eagles finished as the runners-up in the Beanpot twice and won the Hockey East Tournament Championship on Garden ice in both his freshman and junior seasons. Schneider also played at the Garden twice in the Stanley Cup Finals (in relief appearances Game 4 and Game 6) last season, although he did not start either of those games.

Schneider’s first start in Boston lacked the flow of a typical game. The Bruins did not get a shot on goal until nine minutes (and 50 minutes of penalties) into the first period. As fighting ruled the ice and hockey played out as somewhat of a sideshow through the first 30 or so minutes of the game, Schneider somehow found a way to ignore the extracurricular activity and keep his mind on stopping the puck. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Alain Vigneault, Cory Schneider, Roberto Luongo,
Not surprised to see Roberto Luongo sitting vs. Bruins 01.06.12 at 3:07 pm ET
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Roberto Luongo was chased twice in Boston in the Stanley Cup finals. (AP)

Surprise, surprise.

Canucks goaltender and Marblehead native Cory Schneider told reporters Friday that he, not Roberto Luongo, will be the team’s starting goalie when Vancouver faces the Bruins Saturday in a rematch of the teams in last season Stanley Cup finals.

Luongo is coming off a shutout Wednesday against the Wild, but he had a very difficult time playing in Boston in the postseason. In three starts in Boston in the finals, he allowed 15 goals and was chased from both Games 4 and 6. He allowed five goals in the other four games at Rogers Arena.

This season, Luongo is 17-8-3 with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. Schneider, who played his college hockey at Boston College, is 8-5-0 with a 2.16 GAA and a .931 save percentage.

It ultimately isn’t surprising for Luongo to sit Saturday vs. the B’s. He got off to a rocky start this season, but has turned things around. If anything could shake him right now, it’s the idea of playing in Boston again.

Things went downhill for Luongo following the Canucks’ 1-0 win in Game 5 of the finals. Following the win, Luongo criticized Tim Thomas‘ style of play, saying the game-winning goal he allowed to Maxim Lapierre would have been an easy save for him. Luongo was chased jsut 8:35 into the next game after allowing three early goals and went on to allow three goals in the Bruins’ 4-0 Cup-clinching Game 7.

Thomas told WEEI.com recently that Luongo’s remarks gave him confidence, as he realized that Luongo was distracted.

“As far as Luongo goes, actually, all that did was give me confidence that his head was in the wrong place, because I was focused on stopping the puck and he was thinking about my style,” Thomas said on Dec. 21 as he reflected on the now infamous comment.

“I realized that I had an advantage over him,” Thomas added. “… The challenge on my end was to keep that advantage.”

The Bruins starter is currently unknown, though Tuukka Rask has allowed just one goal over his last four starts and is coming off his third shutout this season. Just this writer’s opinion, but it might be wise for Julien to continue to ride the hot hand and stick with Rask for Saturday’s game. That way the B’s can go back to Thomas, who beat Winnipeg in November, when the Jets come to town Tuesday. Rask was in net for the Bruins’ Dec. 6 loss to the Jets.

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Roberto Luongo regrets criticizing Tim Thomas 08.18.11 at 4:10 am ET
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Roberto Luongo is used to be critiqued, but it was his criticism of another that intensified the spotlight already being shined on Vancouver goaltender in the Stanley Cup Finals. Luongo infamously said after the Canucks’ Game 5 win that he would have stopped the Maxim Lapierre goal that B’s netminder Tim Thomas allowed go give Vancouver a 1-0 win. Now, he’s saying he regrets criticizing the eventual Conn Smythe winner.

Speaking with Jean-Francois Chaumont of Radio-Canada.ca, Luongo said in French (translated by Stuart St-Amant of CanucksArmy.com) that if he could go back, he would not make the same comments about Thomas.

“Yeah, for sure,” Luongo said when asked whether he regrets his words. “If I could do it again, I wouldn’t say it. I didn’t want to create the buzz that it did. After the fifth game, I had never been so emotional and I got carried away.”

The differing styles of the technically proficient Luongo and the unorthodox Thomas made for an interesting storyline in the finals. Though Luongo was among those praising Thomas leading into the playoffs, his comments when asked about the Game 5 goal were regrettable. Thomas, whose aggressive play out of the net had yielded complaints from the Canucks for the duration of the series, was just outside of the crease as he tried to stop a shot from Kevin Bieksa at the point. When the shot missed the net wide and ricocheted off the end boards and back in front by the opposite post, Lapierre put it in before the Vezina winner could get back.

“That’s not hard if you’re playing in the paint,” Luongo said at the time. “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 cases like that we want to take advantage of bounces like that and make sure we’re in a good position to bury those.”

While media and fans were drawn to Luongo saying it would be “an easy save” for him, the Canucks goaltender took issue with the fact that his whole answer — in which he said Thomas could make saves he couldn’t — wasn’t being heard. In saying that at the airport the following day, Luongo took things a step further, adding that Thomas had not said anything nice about him despite that fact that he was “pumping his tires.” Thomas abstained from a war of words, but did say prior to Game 6 that he “didn’t realize it was my job to pump his tires.”

In the final two games of the series, Luongo allowed six goals (he was pulled after 8:35 in Game 6), while Thomas allowed two goals, including a shutout in the Cup-clinching Game 7.

Read More: Roberto Luongo, Tim Thomas,
Plain and simple: Bruins win the Stanley Cup 06.15.11 at 10:45 pm ET
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VANCOUVER — The Stanley Cup never entered TD Garden when the Canucks had a chance to win it on Monday. Now, it’s safe to say it will be in plain sight in Boston for quite some time.

The Bruins knocked off the Canucks, 4-0, in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday night to win the Cup for the first time since 1972 and take the trophy for the sixth time in franchise history.

It was only fitting that the longest tenured Bruin, Patrice Bergeron, sure-fire Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas and top rookie Brad Marchand stole the show in Vancouver in providing Boston with the most coveted trophy in all of sports.

Both Bergeron and Marchand had a pair of goals on the night, factoring for all of the Bruins’ tallies. Marchand’s second was an empty-netter with just over two minutes remaining.

Bergeron opened the scoring for the Bruins at 14:37 of first period, taking a pass from Marchand in the slot and sending the puck past a pair of Canucks skaters and just past Roberto Luongo‘s right leg.

The goal marked one bookend of a telling issue for the Bruins, as they did not record another shot on Luongo until 7:40 into the second period. Marchand had another superb opportunity in that span, though he saw his backhanded bid in front of Luongo go off the crossbar.

Despite the lack of work provided for Luongo, Marchand made his presence felt by beating the Vancouver netminder on a wraparound at 12:13. The rookie finished the postseason with 11 goals, and the B’s won all nine games in which he scored.

If it’s possible for a dagger to come in the second period, Bergeron provided it with a shorthanded goal on a breakaway late in the period. The play was reviewed to determine whether Bergeron punched the puck into the net, though the goal stood, and so too did the Bruins’ lead.

Thomas’ performance capped a remarkable series for the anticipated Vezina winner, as he allowed just eight goals over the entire series and set the record for most games in a Stanley Cup finals series. His shutout was his fourth of the postseason and second of the finals.

Though first period yielded the Bruins’ first goal, though it was not the most encouraging 20 minutes. The B’s managed only five shots on goal, with the fourth line of Gregory Campbell between Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille. The line’s tireless work and aggression stood out for the Bruins, with each member getting a shot on Luongo. By the end of the period, the line had contributed 60 percent of the team’s shots on goal.

An injury scare occurred for the Bruins early on as well, as a hit from Chris Higgins at the blue line in the first period left captain Zdeno Chara down on the ice for a few moments. Chara got up and returned to the bench without any further issues.

The Canucks came out of the gate much stronger than the Bruins, and had quality opportunities throughout the night despite the Bruins’ attempts to push the play to the side. Vancouver’s best opportunity came a little over nine minutes into the second, when Chara was attempting to send the puck up the boards in his own zone, only to see the puck deflect off of Henrik Sedin and in front of the net to Alexandre Burrows. The controversial Vancouver winger had an empty net to work with, but Chara made up for his own miscue by getting in position to save the puck for Thomas.

A few odds and ends from the game:

- Mark Recchi will now retire having won three Stanley Cup championships with three different teams, as he won it all with the Penguins in 1992 and Hurricanes in 2006.

- Dennis Seidenberg is now the second German to win the Stanley Cup, joining Uwe Krupp (1996).

- Both Henrik and Daniel Sedin were on the ice for the first three Bruins’ goals. Henrik was one of the players in front when Bergeron’s shot went past him on its way to Luongo on the first goal.

- The Canucks’ power play finished the Stanley Cup finals just 2-for-31.

- Tyler Seguin has gone from No. 2 overall pick to Stanley Cup champion in less than a year.

- Of the four major sports, the Patriots now have the longest Boston championship drought, as they las won the Super Bowl in February of 2005.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brad Marchand, Chris Higgins, Daniel Paille
Cory Schneider says Roberto Luongo is ‘more ready than anybody’ at 2:38 pm ET
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VANCOUVER — As the minutes tick down and get closer and closer to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, there is no bigger question mark between either of the teams than Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo.

Cory Schneider thinks Roberto Luongo has had to put up with too much. (AP)

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.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Cory Schneider, Roberto Luongo, Stanley Cup Finals
Ray Ferraro on M&M: Vancouver fans aren’t thrilled with Roberto Luongo at 2:38 pm ET
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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.”

Ferraro also had an interesting take on Roberto Luongo‘s critique of Tim Thomas‘ goaltending style.

“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.”

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Read More: Brad Marchand, Ray Ferraro, Roberto Luongo, Tim Thomas
Marty Turco on M&M: If Canucks don’t win, ‘backlash will be felt for a long time’ at 1:52 pm ET
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Marty Turco

Blackhawks goalie Marty Turco joined the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday afternoon to talk about Bruins-Canucks Game 7. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

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.”

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Read More: Marty Turco, Roberto Luongo, Tim Thomas,
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