Haggerty: More "weak sauce" from Luongo

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Haggerty: More "weak sauce" from Luongo

BOSTON -- Maybe Roberto Luongo should stop wondering why nobody else ever wants to pump his perpetually saggy tires?

The Vancouver Canucks goaltender has once again created a firestorm of criticism by simply doing what everybody predicted Bobby Lou would choose in the first place: taking the easy way out.

No matter what the Vancouver coaching staff posited publicly as the reasoning behind it, Luongo opted out of the difficult challenge facing down his demons against the Bruins at TD Garden.

Its the perfect example of Bobby Lou just being Bobby Lou.

Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault revealed on Friday afternoon Luongo wont be playing against a Bruins team he fell flat on his face against during three Stanley Cup Finals games in Boston last June. In each of the three Vancouver road games where the Bruins outscored the Canucks by an aggregate 17-3 margin, it was Luongo that set the leaky tone for his team.

Luongo was pulled from two of those games, couldnt last even 10 minutes in Vancouvers best chance to wrap things up in Game 6 at TD Garden and created one of the tangible turning points in the seven-game series after memorably criticizing Tim Thomas aggressive goaltending style.

He was arguably the biggest reason his Canucks team ultimately lost the Finals, and he was badly outplayed by his Boston counterpart.

Luongo followed up his severe breach of goaltending brotherhood etiquette by posting a .773 save percentage in those three road games in Boston. For a puck-stopper that always seems to have an excuse at the ready when things go haywire it was just another weak sauce showing at a career-defining moment.

In other words it was Bobby Lou just being Bobby Lou.

For a goaltender in Luongo thats never won anything aside from an Olympic gold medal captured in spite of him rather than because of him thanks to Sidney Crosbys heroics Saturday afternoon was the rare opportunity to right something that went so very wrong last year.

Of course a regular season win wouldnt erase Luongo soiling his Canucks diapers in all three road games during the Finals, but it would have shown that perhaps the losing experience inspired the growth of a little backbone for Bobby Lou. It would have been a good sign that perhaps the Canucks had finally learned that sometimes making a stand is more important in the long view than collecting the two points.

Instead Luongo is hiding behind the coachs decision for Vancouver to go with Marblehead native Cory Schneider, and the excuse du jour is that the Marblehead native will be playing in front of family and friends for the first time in five years at TD Garden.

The only problem: Schneider played in two of the Stanley Cup Finals games in Boston when Luongo was unceremoniously yanked after looking like a goaltender on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

So Schneider has played in front of his local family and friends at the Garden after all.
The NHL is also not Peewee hockey where players get in the starting lineup because their favorite aunt from Moose Jaw made the trip to the game, or because the team is back in somebodys home town for the first time.

Its the highest level of hockey where superstars are supposed to face stiff challenges head on, and where the best of the bunch known when its time to man up in those statement situations.

Luongo is an All-Star goaltender, the highest salaried player on the Canucks aside from the Sedin brothers, and a former captain of his hockey club. He also hadnt played since shutting out the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night, so he was well-rested heading into the Hub showdown.

If the Vancouver netminder insisted on meeting the Bs challenge head on Saturday afternoon, he would be in the Canucks lineup with no questions asked. But he chose to take the cowards route and settle for a baseball cap and his trademark hangdog expression on the visitors bench for Saturday afternoon.

Its as simple as that.

I dont think winning tomorrows game is going to change what happened last year, said Luongo. At the end of the day I would have liked to play, but it doesnt change the outcome of the last year.

At the end of the day youd be playing Saturday afternoon if you really wanted to, Bobby Lou.

Could anybody imagine Tim Thomas passing up the challenge to shut down a team that embarrassed him during the prior seasons playoffs? Thomas would be frothing at the mouth to leap into the breach and get another crack at the team that had mastered him on the leagues greatest stage.

But its pretty apparent Bobby Lou is no Tim Thomas. That was abundantly clear when the Bs goaltender collected all of the hardware at the end of the last season and Luongo was taking a long walk on the Vancouver seawall wondering where it all went so horribly wrong.

In a regular season rematch of Stanley Cup Finals teams after Vancouver finished on the losing end last June, Saturday afternoon was a golden chance for Luongo and Co. to put some shine back in a reputation tarnished during the Finals. Instead Luongos unwillingness to seize control of his own fate intertwined with the Bs buzz saw reveals another wishy-washy decision authored by a seemingly rudderless goaltender.

Or as those outside of Vancouver like to say, Its Bobby Lou just being Bobby Lou.

Source: Bruins preparing offer sheet for Jets D-man Jacob Trouba

Source: Bruins preparing offer sheet for Jets D-man Jacob Trouba

According to a hockey source, Don Sweeney and the Boston Bruins “are preparing an offer sheet” this week for Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba as an aggressive option to land a No. 1 defenseman after trades didn’t pan out at last weekend’s NHL Draft.

The Bruins have watched Trouba closely for some time, and clearly have an interest in the 22-year-old D-man with size, offensive abilities and a workhorse nature that’s seen him average more than 22 minutes of ice time per game since entering the league as a 19-year-old.

Trouba is coming off a six-goal, 21-point season while playing in 81 games for the Jets, and was a career-best plus-10 for Winnipeg. With Trouba, a restricted free agent, and the Jets locked into big money deals to fellow right shot D-men in Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers, the writing has been on the wall for some time that the Jets would need to give one of them up.

Now it appears the Bruins may be willing to put their money, and their assets, where their interest is, and come up with an offer sheet that totals a minimum of $47 million for Trouba’s services.

Part of that high total is crafting an offer that the Winnipeg Jets aren’t going to match, and part of that is the Bruins’ own doing while casually tossing away their own draft picks. Because they sent their 2017 third round pick to the Flyers for Zac Rinaldo and their 2017 second round pick to New Jersey for Lee Stempniak, the Bruins must put together an offer sheet with an average annual value (AAV) of at least $9.3 million that will require Boston to give up four consecutive first round picks as compensation.

The good news for the Bruins: for offer sheet purposes, AAV is determined by dividing the total compensation offered by the lesser of the length of the contract, or by five. For contracts longer than five years in term, this will result in a higher AAV than simply dividing the contract total by the number of years.

Example: a 7 year offer sheet worth $49 million total, would be considered an AAV of $9.8 million ($49 million divided by 5) for offer sheet compensation purposes. That means the Bruins could make an offer sheet to Trouba in the $7-8 million per season neighborhood on a seven year deal, a reasonable contract if Trouba turns into the No. 1 defenseman that the B’s are envisioning.

The real price for the Black and Gold would be surrendering four first round picks, but the Bruins have made five first round picks in the last two years while stockpiling their prospect cupboard. The B’s have also been hit-or-miss with their first round picks, so sacrificing a few of them for a surefire, young defenseman would theoretically be worth the price.

Clearly the offer sheet route is the product of Bruins’ frustration at being unable to broker a deal for Kevin Shattenkirk or Cam Fowler last weekend in Buffalo, and at the realization that they need a stud No. 1 defenseman in order to again be competitive in the Eastern Conference. Perhaps even the threat of an offer sheet could spur the Jets into dealing Trouba, just as the threat of an offer sheet pushed forward the trades of Dougie Hamilton and Brandon Saad last season. 

Dirty Water Media Bruins reporter James Murphy was also reporting the buzz that the B's are exploring their offer sheet option. 

Bruins go for size, defensive presence at center with Koppanen

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Bruins go for size, defensive presence at center with Koppanen

While the Bruins fourth round pick might sound eerily like Finnish fourth line center Joonas Kemppainen, the Black and Gold are hoping for much more from fifth round pick (135th overall) Joona Koppanen. The 6-foot-5, 194-pound Finnish center is obviously a big body in the middle of the ice, and already plays a responsible, smart game on the defensive side of the ice.

In keeping with the parallels to Kemppainen, Koppanen is a bit less developed on the offensive side of the game at this point in his young career as an 18-year-old.  

“I think that the draft was awesome and I’m really excited for the draft to Boston,” said Koppanen, who added “Tuukka Rask plays there” when asked what he knows about the Bruins. “My strength is to skating and I’m a good two-way forward.”

The Big Finn had nine goals and 26 points in 40 games for the junior team in Finland last season, and was shut out in seven games for Team Finland at the World Junior U-18 Championships. So he’s got some work to do developing his offensive game and getting both bigger and stronger, but the Bruins see size, strength and the work ethic to improve in Koppanen.

“He’s a big guy, and for a big guy he can really move around. He’s very good defensively and smart with his positioning. He plays hard,” said Bruins head scout Keith Gretzky. “The skill is the one area that needs to develop, and we think it’s going to do that. He was a guy that we targeted because he’s a big guy that can skate, and is good in his own end.”

One thing the Bruins focused on heading into the draft was acquiring some size at the center position, and they’ve clearly done that with 6-foot-2, 200-pound Trent Frederic and the 6-foot-5, 198-pound Koppanen.

It just remains to be seen what kind of offensive upside these gritty, tough competitors will have once they reach the pro ranks a few years from now, and that will go a long way to determining how good these picks end up being.

One thing is for sure: they must be projecting that Koppanen is better than Kemppainen, who was an absolute bust in the offensive zone. 

Lindgren brings toughness, leadership as Bruins second-round pick

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Lindgren brings toughness, leadership as Bruins second-round pick

Despite receiving a mixed reaction to their two first-round picks, the consensus is the Bruins made another good pick in the second round with Ryan Lindgren.

The 6-foot, 203-pound defenseman from the US National Team Development Program had a combined 10 goals and 37 points in 87 games played for the program last season, and was excellent at both ends for Team USA during the World Junior Under-18 tournament played during the year.

Lindgren isn’t flashy, doesn’t come into the next stage of his hockey development as an elite puck-mover and he wasn’t somebody that popped with amazing workouts during the NHL scouting combine. Instead he’s simply been a solid D-man with good leadership qualities, who is good at everything while also showing an eager willingness to block shots and sacrifice his body for wins at a very young age where grit doesn’t always come naturally.

“Lindgren blocks shots. He’s not the most skilled guy like [Charlie] McAvoy or anything like that, but he brings an element that we really liked as an organization,” said Bruins head scout Keith Gretzky of the University of Minnesota-bound Lindgren. “We believe that he’s a leader, and you win with those kinds of guys.”

The Minnesota-born Lindgren also captained both the USNDTP team and the Under-18 World Junior squad for Team USA where hard work is clearly part of his overall skill set.

“I’m a hard-working defenseman,” said Lindgren last weekend in Buffalo while sporting black eyes from a ball hockey league he plays in with older brother, and Montreal Canadiens goalie, Charlie Lindgren. “I think I’m a leader on and off the ice. I think I bring a big compete level, and I bring it every day. I’m more of a defensive defenseman, but I think I’ve got some offensive ability as well. I’m going to be physical and bring it every game. I’m going to block shots and do whatever it is to help the team win. That’s what I expect to bring every game.”

Now the Bruins can sit back and watch Lindgren’s development with the Gophers where he’ll undoubtedly become a gritty, tough leader and top D-man like he’s been at every level of his hockey career prior to being the 49th overall selection.

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs