Bruins

Both sides expect a different Luongo in Game 7

191545.jpg

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.

Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

philadelphia-flyers-radko-gudas-111717.jpg

Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while enjoying the new Brown Sugar Cinnamon coffee flavor at Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s not Cookie Dough, but what is after all?

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) and PHT writer James O’Brien has the details on Radko Gudas getting ejected for an ugly, reckless and dangerous slash to Mathieu Perreault’s head last night. Gudas should be facing a long suspension for a play that has no place in the NHL. It’s time for Flyers fans to stop making excuses for a player who’s no better than a cheap-shot artist and hatchet man. He has to face the music for consistently trying to hurt his fellow players.  

*Frank Seravalli has some of the details for a historic GM meeting in Montreal where NHL hockey was born in the first place.

*You always need to link to a service dog being part of the pregame face-off ceremonies. That’s like a rule here at the morning skate?

*Cam Atkinson and the Columbus Blue Jackets have agreed to a seven-year contract extension, according to reports from the Athletic.

*It’s been quite an eventful year for Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet and some of it has been to the extreme both good and bad just a month into his first year as bench boss.

*For something completely different: Chris Mannix is all-in on the Celtics being the front-runners in the Eastern Conference after their big win over the Golden State Warriors.


 

Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

bruins-rask-khudobin-rask-111717.jpg

Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

These are desperate times for the Bruins even after pulling out a solid, blue-collar 2-1 win over a sputtering Los Angeles Kings team on Thursday night.

The victory ended a four-game losing streak and gave the Bruins just their second road win of the season in eight tries. It was also the fourth win of the season for backup netminder Anton Khudobin, who is a sterling 4-0-2 and has given them everything they could possibly hope for out of the backup spot. The Bruins have a grand total of 18 points on the season and Khudobin miraculously has more than half of those (10 to be exact).

MORE BRUINS:

It’s clearly a far cry from last season for Khudobin, of course, when it took until February for the goalie’s season to get in gear.

But Thursday night’s 27-save effort from Khudobin was also a stunning contrast to what Tuukka Rask has been able to produce this season. Khudobin has a .928 save percentage and 2.35 goals-against average. Rask has a dreadful .897 save percentage while giving them average play between the pipes at best.  

Khudobin is tied for seventh in the NHL with reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky in save percentage and Rask is chilling in the NHL goalie statistical basement with retreads Steve Mason and James Reimer.

Quite simply, Khudobin has been way better than Rask and the Bruins have, for whatever reason, played better hockey in front of their backup goalie. Some of it might also be about Khudobin’s more adaptable game behind a Boston defense that can make things unpredictable for their goaltender, but Rask is being paid $7 million a season to be better and figure it out. It would be amazing if this trend continued for the entire season and it would certainly merit more examination from management as to why the rest of the Bruins and Rask can’t seem to combine for an effective, winning product on the ice.

For now, the Bruins need to simply win by whatever means necessary and that amounts to riding Khudobin’s hot streak for as long as it lasts. It should begin with the backup goalie getting a second consecutive start against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night and seeing where it goes from there. Perhaps the extra rest gets Rask additional time to get his game together, or serves as the kind of motivation to get the Finnish netminder into a mode where he can steal games for an undermanned, out-gunned team that needs that right now.

“We’re going to look at it,” said Bruce Cassidy, when asked postgame by reporters in L.A. about his goalie for Saturday night. “He played very well against San Jose last time. They’re a heavy team. He seems to do well in these kinds of games with a lot of traffic around the net. But we’ll look at that decision [Friday].”

Khudobin has stopped 57 of 61 shots in his two games in November, so perhaps that level of hot goaltending could also allow the Bruins to survive a month that otherwise might absolutely bury their playoff hopes. Maybe Khudobin finally loses on Saturday night and the goaltending conversation, not controversy, ends as quickly as his point streak. For now, riding the hot goalie is the right call for a team that needs something good to hang onto.

The Bruins are in desperation mode until they get a number of their injured players back. There certainly might not be more of a desperate option than setting their beleaguered sights on a goalie they sent to the minors as recently as last season. But it’s a new season, Khudobin has been excellent and he’s earned a chance to carry this team for a little bit until they can get things back in order.

Calling Khudobin’s number is the right call right now for the Bruins and, quite frankly, shouldn’t be that difficult a choice given what we’ve seen so far this season.