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.