Both sides expect a different Luongo in Game 7

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Both sides expect a different Luongo in Game 7

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Follow @dannypicard
BOSTON -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; a:link, span.MsoHyperlink color: blue; text-decoration: underline; a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed color: purple; text-decoration: underline; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault felt it was the right thingto do at the time.

Backup goaltender Cory Schneider could see itsnowballing.

Roberto Luongo, well, he had to have known that the leash inGame 6 would be short.

Luongo allowed three goals in the first 8:35 of the first period, and after the third -- a shot from the left point by AndrewFerence that Luongo brutally misplayed -- Vigneaultdecided it was time to replace his starter with Schneider for thesecond straight game in Boston.

The Canucks goaltender allowed 15 goals in just about six full periods in the three games in Boston, and his latest misadventure led to a 5-2 Bruins' victory in Game 6 that sets up Game 7 Wednesday night in Vancouver.

This one was especially satisfying to the Bruins and their followers since, after Luongo's 1-0 shutout win in Game 5, he boasted that the only goal Tim Thomas allowed that night would have been "an easy save for me". He subsequently complained that no one on the Bruins' side ever said any nice things about him. ("No one's pumped my tires the whole series.")

No one was pumping his tires after Monday night's performance, either.

Yeah, I mean they came out flying, obviously, and got somegoals, and I obviously didnt make enough key saves to weather the stormearly, Luongo said Monday after Vancouvers loss.

Honestly, I had a good feeling all day, he said. Therewas not extra nerves or anything like that. I was excited to play. I mean wehad a chance to win the Cup. Nerves are part of playing in the playoffs. I thinkwe had nerves every game, pretty much.

Every game in Boston, Luongos been as bad as he couldpossibly be. Still, hes shown that he can bounce back in his own building,which is where Game 7 will take place, and where hell get another shot atredemption.

I havent talked to him, Vigneault said when meeting the media after Game 6. Heknows hes going back in next game. Hes going to be real good.

I dont have to say anything to him, added the Canuckscoach. Hes a professional. His preparation is beyond reproach. And hes goingto be ready for Game 7.

After being pulled in Game 4 in Boston, Luongo bounced backin Game 5 in Vancouver to make 31 saves and record his second shutout of theStanley Cup Final.

If he were to bounce back with a solid performance in Game 7of the Stanley Cup Finals, it wouldnt be the first time he did so in a Game 7,either.

After taking a 3-0 series lead in the first round againstthe Chicago Blackhawks, Luongo was pulled in Games 4 and 5, which forcedVigneault to start Schneider in Game 6.

The series went to a Game 7 back in Vancouver, and Luongogot the call. He saved the day with 31 saves in a 2-1 win.

He was at his finest when we needed him most, saidCanucks forward Manny Malhotra about Luongos Game 7 performance against theBlackhawks. We looked to him for some big saves, and he came up huge.

Malhotra said that he can tell early on if Luongos got hisbest stuff, and in Game 6 that certainly wasnt the case.

He has this look about him, when hes on, said Malhotra.The first couple saves hes made, he was rock solid. No rebounds, he was incomplete control of everything. You just know when hes on.

The Canucks will look for him to be on one more time.

Weve been getting this question a lot in these playoffs,and hes always bounced back for us, said Daniel Sedin. Hes going to do thatnext game, too.

I mean, I got to believe in myself, right?" said Luongo. "Thats a bigcomponent of bouncing back and playing a good game. So, weregoing to put what happened tonight behind us as soon as possible and obviouslyget ready for what is going to be a dream as far as playing in Game 7 in aStanley Cup Final.

Its one game, winner-take -all. Ive been in thosesituations before, I know how to handle it and Ill be ready for it.

The Bruins are also expecting Luongo to bring his A-game inhis own building.

Hes able to shake games off like its nothing, saidBruins forward Brad Marchand, who scored the first goal on Luongo in Game 6.And you know hes bounced back so many times and hes so tough to play againstin Vancouver. So you know hes going to brush this off, hell definitely bounceback from this.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Mueller aims to take advantage of opportunity in tonight's Bruins-Wings game

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Mueller aims to take advantage of opportunity in tonight's Bruins-Wings game

BRIGHTON -- Tonight’s Bruins-Red Wings game against the Red Wings should be a big chance for training-camp invite Peter Mueller as he readies to skate in a second straight exhibition game after a quiet night in the opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

The former 22-goal scorer with the Coyotes felt he was “solid” and “held his own” while not getting any shots on neta againsy Columbus. The veteran winger feels like he’s again starting to pick up the NHL pace after spending the last three years in Europe, and that’s mandatory to start making plays. 

“It was a good adjustment, but hopefully tonight I show a little more skill, a few more pucks to the net and create some more offense,” said Mueller. “I would rather play in most of the [exhibition] games, to be honest with you, and to get in-game-like scenarios and prepare yourself for each and every game. In my position I’m happy that I’m playing tonight and hopefully I can keep trying to impress the people [making decisions].”

The 26-year-old former first-round pick will be in a favorable spot, skating in a possible third-line, right-wing audition with Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey. He'll also serve as another established player in a more veteran-laden lineup Wednesday night vs. the Winged Wheels at TD Garden. With Frankie Vatrano out for the next three months, these are the kind of chances Mueller needs to knock out of the park if he wants to fend off younger competition for one of those B’s roster spots up front. 

“It definitely favors the type of game I want to play,” said Mueller, when asked about the chance to skate in a spot with Spooner and Beleskey that he would likely fill whre he to crack the NHL roster. “With two skill guys, hopefully we can create some chemistry and some offense early and obviously that helps with the flow of the game. Hopefully I can just showcase my skills and the work ethic that I’m trying to bring to the team. Overall, hopefully we have a good game tonight.”

Sean Kuraly is also playing in his second straight exhibition, and will move over to the left wing skating with Austin Czarnik and left wing Zachary Senyshyn in what amounts to a kid line for the Bruins. One would expect the same goaltending rotation in this game, with Malcolm Subban getting the first two periods and Daniel Vladar getting the game’s final 20 minutes. Here are the line combos and D-pairings according to the rushes during morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena:
 
Beleskey-Spooner-Mueller
Kuraly-Czarnik-Senyshyn
Gabrielle-Moore-Ferlin
Blidh-Acciari-Hickman
 
Grzelcyk-McQuaid
Lauzon-C. Miller
Arnesson-Casto
 
Subban
Vladar
 

Bruins' Zboril uses criticism and Twitter hate as motivation

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Bruins' Zboril uses criticism and Twitter hate as motivation

BRIGHTON -- It’s easy to see that Jakub Zboril , one of the Bruins' 2015 first-round pick, has come a long way in a year.

“I feel more comfortable,” said Zboril. “After last year, when all of the people saying something about what they didn’t like about me, it really pushed me forward. I told myself I wanted to be in better shape and so I worked really hard at it.”

The 19-year-old wasn’t in very good shape for last season's training camp after coming back from a knee injury, and that carried over into a junior season for the Saint John Sea Dogs (6 goals and 20 points in 50 games). That was a drop from his 13 goals and 33 points in 44 games prior to hearing his name called by the B’s on draft night.

Zboril was back at peak effectiveness in the playoffs for the Sea Dogs with a couple of goals and 10 points in 17 games, but the chain of events caused some to wonder if the Bruins had drafted something of a bust.

It seems ludicrous, considering Zboril is a 19-year-old talented enough to be selected 13th overall in the entire NHL draft, and even more so now that he’s showing much more in his second camp with Boston. It was some good and some bad for Zboril in his preseason debut against Columbus on Monday with a misplay leading to a goal against, but Zboril also kicked off the transition pass that helped the Bruins score their first goal of game.

“From last year I think he’s made big strides,” said assistant coach Jay Pandolfo. “He’s a young kid that’s only 19 years old, and he’s going to keep getting better. So that’s what you want. The structure in his game and the overall attitude [is better]. He was a little young last year. He’s in better shape. He’s done a lot of things that we got on him for last year, and he’s taken it and listened, he’s working hard. He’s done a good job.”

It’s a long shot for Zboril to crack the B’s roster this fall, so he’s likely headed back to Saint John for another junior hockey season after watching fellow prospect Thomas Chabot get a lot of the No. 1 D-man playing time last season. He quickly shot down any possibilities of playing in Europe rather than going back to the Quebec Major Junior League, and said there could still be plenty to learn in his final junior season.

“Right now where I am, I can just learn from myself and pushing myself,” said Zboril, of going back to junior. “What I can take from last year is that my role on the team changed, and I had to be more of a shutdown D. I had to show my defensive abilities, so I improved a lot from the year before. I think I can be more of a defensive defenseman too, so there’s that.”

Still, the so-so season last year had its impact in a positive fashion with Zboril really stepping up his game. But it’s also had its drawbacks as the Czech-born defenseman was forced to deactivate his Twitter account because of the harsh criticism and messages he was getting from hockey fans. Disappointingly, Zboril said most of it was coming from people in Boston that claim to be Bruins fans, and that it was like “people just spitting on you.”

“It was really pushing me down a lot,” said Zboril. “After some games when you know you weren’t playing really good, then you go on Twitter and you just see . . . people just spitting on you. So I had to delete it.”

Zboril said he’s much happier since getting off social media. But it’s a shame that a bright young prospect’s first impression of his future NHL city was the flaming dumpster of keyboard warriors that should forever be known as “Bruins Hockey Twitter.”