Luongo takes a shot at Thomas

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Luongo takes a shot at Thomas

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
VANCOUVER Roberto Luongo was much-maligned for playing deep in the net after giving up 12 goals in one-sided losses to Boston during Games 3 and 4.

So Luongo had a little something for his critics, Tim Thomas and just about anybody else after making 31 saves in a 1-0 shutout win for the Vancouver Canucks in Game 5 at Rogers Arena Friday night that has the Canucks ahead 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.

While Luongo was only intermittently challenged throughout the game while staving off a Bruins attack that looked a little toothless, the Vancouver goalie had some tips for Thomas on the only goal of the game.

Kevin Bieksa fired an intentionally wide shot to the right of the net that caromed off the end board. The puck bounced to Maxim Lapierre near the left post more quickly than Thomas could recover from one side of the post to the other, and that was the difference in a one-goal game for the Canucks.

Thomas certainly didnt need to take any fault on the goal and it was an impossible stop to make for even the most accomplished goaltender but Luongo inserted himself into the conversation in a theoretical spot where he would have made the save.

It's not hard if you're playing in the paint, said Luongo. 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 a case like that we want to take advantage of a bounce like that, and make sure we're in a good position to bury it.

Part of Vancouvers plan against Thomas is to get him moving one way with a pump fake or a shot wide of the net, and then attempt to hit the other side of the net before the 37-year-old can properly recover. Tanner Glass whiffed on a wide-open shot earlier in the game from a cross-ice Christopher Tanev pass that had beat Thomas dead to rights, but the Bs couldnt stave off the Canucks a second time just minutes into the third period.

Lapierre got it off the end of his stick and whacked it toward the net, said Thomas. I think if hed really got it clean with a shot, it would have given me a better chance to stop it. But it hit me in the stomach and it was a couple of inches over the line before I got a handle on it.

I got a pretty good feeling one goal would enough to win it because it almost felt like an overtime game to me. Im just frustrated that I got scored on because I didnt want to let them score. In my mind I was going to hold them off the scoreboard for as long as it took.

Luongo is first goalie with two 1-0 wins under his belt in the Stanley Cup Final since Torontos Frank McCool did it back in 1945.

Vancouvers Green Men got creative with their signage outside the penalty box at Rogers Arena, and did a riff on the Saturday Night Live skit with Adam McQuaid in the box for Boston. The two Green Men held up a cardboard cutout of Mark Wahlberg wearing a Canucks sweater, and above his head was a cartoon bubble that said Say hi to your mother for me. Got to admit thats pretty funny.

The question of the series was asked of Maxim Lapierre if he was mortally wounded in the Game 5 postgame press conference after Lapierre had gone through the second period acting like hed broken a handful of ribs after taking a light poke from Zdeno Charas stick during play. Lapierre immediately went down toward the ground after getting tapped by Chara, and then skated with his stomach hunched over his waste as he put on a great show for a group of officials who werent buying his act.

Nathan Hortons No. 18 sweater sat on a hanger in the Bruins dressing room throughout the Game Five against the Canucks at Vancouvers Rogers Arena, and it appears that the right winger is still being used by his team as motivation now that his teammates know the medical prognosis is good.

Shawn Thornton handed off a No. 22 sweater to Ultimate Fighter Kenny Florian on Thursday for a weigh-in prior to a Saturday night UFC fight tat is needed to help some old friends. Florian is a Massachusetts guy thats struck up a friendship with Thornton, who is also a big friend to the boxing community in Boston.

The home teams are 5-0 through the first five games of the Stanley Cup Finals for the third consecutive season. In the 20 years prior to the 2009 season, the two home teams had never combined to go 5-0 in the first five games.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right.