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Mark Messier on D&C: Game 1 loss ‘might be a confidence-builder for Boston’ 06.03.11 at 7:48 am ET
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Hall of Fame center Mark Messier joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup finals, which continue Saturday night in Vancouver. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Messier said the Bruins can build on their performance despite losing, 1-0, in Wednesday’s Game 1.

“It might be a confidence-builder for Boston,” he said, adding, “Any time you can hold Vancouver to one goal, I think that you have to be happy. They’re not happy that they didn’t win the game; they had their opportunities as well. But overall, I don’t think either team was leaving that game deflated with the loss. Obviously, Vancouver’s more than happy that they won it. I think Boston can take some solace that they played an excellent game. With some bounces the other way there, they could have come out on top in Game 1.”

The Bruins were unable to solve Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo Wednesday, but Messier said the B’s shouldn’t be looking to try anything new Saturday.

“It would be my message to don’t change your game plan, do what we’ve always done, and let the goalie make a mistake,” he said.

Touching on the NHL’s decision not to suspend Canucks forward Alex Burrows for his apparent bite on Patrice Bergeron‘s finger, Messier indicated that he supported the league’s ruling. “I think the NHL made the right decision in that regard,” he said. “I think that Boston’s probably a little disappointed, because they would like to see Burrows out of the lineup. But in the end, nobody’s really hurt, nobody’s going to miss any games. Tough decision, but I think the right decision was made.”

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Canucks are blue over Tim Thomas’ positioning, but Bruins aren’t concerned 06.02.11 at 8:02 pm ET
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Tim Thomas has made himself comfortable outside the crease. (AP)

VANCOUVER — Biting aside, one hot-button issue to emerge from Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals was where Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas set up shop. The Vezina favorite drew a questionable tripping call on Alexandre Burrows in the second period of Wednesday’s game, which caused Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault to question Thomas’ positioning outside of the crease.

Following the game, Vigneault said one big difference between Thomas and Roberto Luongo, both of whom entered the series with nearly identical postseason numbers, is that his guy stays put.

“Our goaltender always plays in the blue, stays in his ice. Their goaltender is always out of the blue and comes into other people’s ice,” Vigneault said after Game 1. “We’re going to need a little bit of clarification there, especially when he’s initiating contact with our team. I’m sure we’ll be able to figure it out.”

If Vigneault needs clarification, he can simply go to Rule 69.4, which applies to contact outside the crease. Here is the part of that rule that would pertain to Wednesday’s play:

“A goalkeeper is not ‘fair game’ just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.”

Thomas defended his ground Thursday when the subject was brought up during the Bruins’ media availability.

“Basically I have the right to go anywhere there’s open ice,” Thomas said. “If I’m set, I have a right to that ice. If I’m out of the paint and I’m set, I also have the right to get right-of-way to get back to the crease. That’s the way I understand it.”

That’s just what Thomas felt he was doing on the penalty taken by Burrows. As for the notion that the Canucks could need clarification on what he can and can’t do, Thomas pointed to how rare it is that he has drawn such a penalty. If the Canucks are worried about it happening often, they may be reading too far into things.

“I don’t think I’ve drawn that many penalties this playoffs,” Thomas said Thursday at the University of British Columbia. “Yesterday on the one on [Burrows], I went to make the first stop, then the puck was going off to the side. I was retreating back to the center of my net, felt resistance behind my leg, and I was actually just going with it. I was going to basically flip around, flip my body around, to be able to at least have a chance to stop that rebound that went to the side of the net.

“I didn’t know if it was my guy or their guy or who [tripped me]. I was backing up and there was something behind my leg. It sort of put me off balance.”

Bruins coach Claude Julien didn’t see reason for concern either and figured Luongo could do the same thing if he wanted.

“If he gets a chance to challenge, he challenges,” Julien said of Thomas. “The rule is pretty clear. You’re entitled to your ice. If he steps out and he’s got that ice, he’s entitled to it. That’s what he’s done through the whole process.

“Now, we all know that goaltenders are to be protected. If you’re going to say he’s out of his crease, he’s fair game, that should be the same thing behind the net. … If he’s entitled to his ice, and he’s got it, then afterwards I don’t think people are entitled to run over those guys. If Luongo comes out of his net, he’s got his ice, it’s his, it belongs to him. The rule to me is pretty clear so I don’t see any issues there.”

Maybe Vigneault and the Bruins will have to agree to disagree, and though Thomas may have gone down a little easily on the play, the ruling seems clear enough.

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Gord Kluzak on D&C: Bruins ‘have surprised me’ 05.31.11 at 9:39 am ET
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NESN Bruins analyst Gord Kluzak was a guest on the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning and discussed the Stanley Cup finals that are set to start Wednesday evening. The former B’s defenseman began his talk about the differences between the Bruins and Canucks, with the highlight among those differences regarding of course penalties. With its power-play unit struggling in the postseason, there’s no surprise that Kluzak would think that the B’s would hope that the referees keep the whistles away from their mouths. (To hear the entire interview, head over to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.)

“Well, I think what the Bruins would want it to look like is very physical, sort of played in the corners and in the high traffic areas, certainly a five-on-five series,” Kluzak said. “I think what the Canucks would want it to look like is very end-to-end, very high-tempo, lots of penalties, lot of power plays on each ‘side. I think those are the two ways these teams are built.”

In fact, Kluzak went so far as to say that if the Bruins are going to be successful in the finals, they’ll need to reproduce their effort from the last game they played.

“I think the model for the Bruins and by far the best game they played was Game 7 against Tampa Bay,” he said. “That was as dominant of a 1-0 win as you’ll ever see. They had Tampa Bay completely stalled out. Even if they had chances, it was one and done. They just layered their defense so, so well, and all of that talent Tampa Bay had was totally squandered by the Bruins defensive schemes and intensity.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Canucks preparing for a series’ worth of Zdeno Chara at 12:44 am ET
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VANCOUVER — The Bruins know that they have plenty of guys who can create problems for other teams. Tim Thomas can be unbeatable, while David Krejci made things very hard for both the Flyers and Lightning in the last two rounds of the playoffs. Very high on (and perhaps at the top) of the list of players the Canucks might worry about is Zdeno Chara.

Zdeno Chara could be a big problem for the Canucks. (AP)

With the captain and Dennis Seidenberg providing Boston with an outstanding top pairing this postseason, Vancouver’s first line of the brothers Sedin and Alex Burrows.

As has been well-documented, the Sedins have not played to their usual point (or more) a game pace when facing the Bruins. Daniel Sedin has five points in 10 career games vs. Boston, while Henrik Sedin has four points in 11 games against the B’s. Not all of those have come against Chara, and ultimately the biggest thing Henrik feels he lacks going into the Stanley Cup matchup is experience against the 6-foot-9 defenseman.

“He was in Ottawa and we played him a couple times there,” Henrik said, “and Boston maybe once or twice [note: the Bruins have played the Canucks four times since signing Chara in 2006]. We played the Slovaks in the Olympics a couple of times, but that’s it.”

The Sedins faced Chara three times when he played for the Senators. Each brother had one goal over those three games.

“I haven’t really seen him play in game action like for a lot of time,” Henrik admitted. “It’s tough for me to [pick up] what his tendencies are. Like if you want to get close to him or if you want to try to move around him. I don’t know. We’ll see.”

The Sedins (and all of Vancouver’s forwards, for that matter) are not the only ones who have to worry about Boston’s captain. In an attempt to help a historically bad power play, Claude Julien finally moved Chara up front on the man advantage to create chaos for the goaltender. Roberto Luongo has taken notice, and said Monday that when the Bruins are on the power play, he hopes that Chara’s the only one in front.

“I think the key is not to get into battles in front of the net with him as far as our D men are concerned and things like that,” Luongo, a Vezina finalist, said. “For myself, I prefer to just leave him there by himself and it will be easier for me to pick up the puck than having one of our D men try to move him out of the way. I mean, I don’t know if we have anybody strong enough back there. Maybe [Aaron Rome], but apart from that, that’s it.”

Whether or not Chara has company in front, Luongo’s coach has faith that his netminder can deal with him.

“Roberto has seen big bodies in front of him before,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. “He’s adapted his style to that this year. He’s staying in the blue paint to play his game. He’s been excellent all year, so it’s just another big body for him.”

Chara is a finalist for the Norris Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the league’s top defenseman. He won it back in 2009 with the B’s, and has been a frequent finalist.

This postseason, he leads all skaters with a plus-11 rating. He missed Game 2 of the first round due to illness, but his 28:17 average time on ice is second only to Seidenberg for the most among remaining players.

“He’s one of the best defensemen in the league,” Vigneault said. “He’s strong 1-on-1, and without a doubt, he uses his size to his advantage. Obviously it’s a challenge for us offensively to try and generate when he’s on the ice.”

The players might not be used to Chara, but they’ll have to get used to him in a hurry. With Seidenberg turning in a stellar postseason that was brought into the spotlight with his eight-block performance in Game 7 vs. the Lightning, they should be prepared for a difficult time. On the other hand, Henrik Sedin hopes the unfamiliarity is a two-way street.

“I’m hoping it’s going to help us that they haven’t seen us that much,” Henrik said. “But we’ll see. They’ve got to watch their video, we’ve got to watch ours, so it shouldn’t be a big difference.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Roberto Luongo, Stanley Cup Finals, Zdeno Chara Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Roberto Luongo is no Tim Thomas, and he knows it 05.30.11 at 7:38 pm ET
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VANCOUVER — Call Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas polar opposites, but the truth is there was a time when the Canucks’ Vezina finalist seriously considered playing Thomas’ signature risk/reward, flopping style.

Roberto Luongo uses a different style to get the same results as Tim Thomas. (AP)

“I did when I was five and playing street hockey,” Luongo said with a laugh after Monday’s practice at Rogers Arena.

All kidding aside, Luongo made it pretty clear that he has a great amount of respect for Boston’s 37-year-old netminder. In the end, Luongo, along with Nashville’s Pekka Rinne, will fall short of Thomas when the Vezina is awarded this summer, so as unorthodox as Thomas plays, Luongo can appreciate what he’s doing.

“You’ve got to give him credit for the type of value that he has on the ice,” Luongo said. “When you play like that, you have to have tremendous reads and anticipation and things like that.”

Though their styles differ, both Thomas and Luongo share a 2.29 goals against average and have 12-6 records thus far in the postseason. Luongo was pulled twice and was even benched for a game in the first round against the Blackhawks, but since Game 7 of the quarterfinals has been sharp as a tack.

You won’t catch Luongo lunging to make save after save or using his stick to bat down game-tying goals, but just because he’s more of a conventional goalie does not mean he is fooled by Thomas’ tendency to be all over the place.

“I mean, he likes to make saves looking at the net. I like to look the other way,” Luongo said. “He’s a great goalie. He had a great year and he’s a guy that we can’t take for granted that just because maybe you think he’s out of position that we’re going to get a goal. We have to make sure that we bear down and bury it, because he’ll find a way to stop it.”

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Meet the Canucks: Five things you should know about the Bruins’ Stanley Cup opponent 05.28.11 at 4:57 pm ET
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The start of the Stanley Cup finals is still four days away, but it’s never too early to start studying up on the Bruins’ opponent. The Canucks finished the regular season with the best record in the NHL (54-19-9), the best offense (3.15 goals per game), the best defense (2.20 goals against per game) and the best power play (24.4 percent).

They nearly blew a 3-0 series lead to the Blackhawks in the first round of the playoffs, but they bounced back to win Game 7 in overtime to avoid suffering the same disastrous fate that befell the Bruins last year. From there, the Canucks won a tight-checking series against the Predators in six games, only one of which was decided by more than a goal.

They then punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup finals by knocking off the Sharks in five games. The Canucks were badly outshot in each of the last two games — 35-13 in Game 4 and 56-34 in Game 5 — but they managed to come away with a pair of wins thanks to some great goaltending, an opportunistic offense and a lucky bounce in double overtime of the final game.

Here are five more things you should know about the Canucks, along with what the Bruins can do to counter them. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bruins lose 10th straight to Vancouver 02.06.10 at 3:52 pm ET
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Summary — Boston scored two first period goals but could not hold onto the lead as Vancouver came back to tie the game in the third period and win it in a shootout 3-2 at a sold out TD Garden. Tuukka Rask took the loss in his second straight start for the Bruins with 29 saves in a duel with Roberto Luongo who made 41 in the decision. Pavol Demitra had the game-deciding goal in the shootout which the Canucks won 1-0.

The Bruins used to the power play to their advantage to go up two goals in the first period. Captain Zdeno Chara got the first on a perfect pinch play at 1:56 after Marc Savard cycled the puck to Marco Sturm in the corner and found Chara crashing to the net to beat Luongo. The second goal came also came courtesy of the power play at 14:20 when Savard sent a wrist shot on net that was redirected by Michael Ryder’s stick. It was the 10th time this season that Boston has had multiple goals on the power play.

Vancouver cut into the lead at 8:51 on an even-strength strike by Mason Raymond at 8:51 in the second period. Ryan Kesler won the puck from Milan Lucic off the back wall and fed it in front to Raymond who took to steps left and beat Rask on the stick side.

The game-tying goal came courtesy of Demitra at 15:18 in the third period. Demitra screened Rask and redirected a shot from defenseman Sami Salo. The score was Demitra’s first goal of the season.

Three Stars

Roberto Luongo — The star goaltender made 41 saves on the day and shut the Bruins out in the shootout for the victory.

Marc Savard — The Bruins center had two assists in the first period to give him five in the last five contests. It was his sixth multiple-point game of the season and he now now has 27 points through 33 games on the year.

Zdeno Chara — The captain scored his fifth of the season in the first period and was very active in all phases of the game. The towering defenseman was instrumental in shutting down the explosive Sedin brothers and bottling up the Canucks attack.

Turning point

Canucks defenseman Sami Salo had a slap shot from the point late in the third period that forward Pavol Demitra was able to get just enough of a piece of in front of the net to redirect it passed Rask for the game-tying goal at 15:18. The goal was Demintra’s first of the season in his 10th game of the year with Vancouver.

Key play

Demitra circled wide to the right in the shootout before attacking Rask on his glove side. Demitra was the only player to score in the shootout as Blake Wheeler, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci were shutout. Over the last two games the Bruins have missed six straight shootout chances.

Read More: Marc Savard, Pavol Demitra, Roberto Luongo, Zdeno Chara Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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