Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Luongo must outduel Thomas at Rogers

Canucks' goaltender Roberto Luongo has been up and down this post-season.  After beginning with great numbers against the Blackhawks in round one, he melted down over two games, but rebounded in Game 7 to get an emotional overtime win.  He cruised largely through Nashville and San Jose with some very solid numbers over that 13 game stretch, even doing very well in games one and two of the Boston series.

But the Canucks' let down in Games 3 and 4 have thrust Luongo back under the spotlight once again.  After giving up 8 goals in Game 3, and another four through half of Game 4, the Canucks' netminder is battling to keep Vancouver's faith/trust in him.  While he cannot be blamed for many - if any - of the 12 goals to get by him in Boston, he certainly did not make many highlight reel saves to keep his team in the game.

That being said, the play of Luongo is what got the Canucks past the Sharks in five games, and what got them to the dance.  There's no sense bailing on him now.  Reportedly, fans watching the game live at Rogers Arena cheered when coach Alain Vigneault pulled Luongo after the 4-0 goal.  Perhaps those fans couldn't sell their Game 4 tickets in time, anticipating the sweep and a big party.

Guys, the bandwagon might be a bit lighter after tonight - and good riddance.  Players have off-games, crap happens.  Remember when you went to work with a headache and were completely useless?  Everyone has those days, except Tim Thomas.

Yup.  Tim Thomas cures cancer, Tim Thomas found Osama.  Enough about Tim Thomas okay?  Much like Luongo in Game One, Tim Thomas earned a shutout without really being challenged.

Christian Ehrhoff had 7 shots on goal.  Did he have one that wasn't from the blueline with no screen?  Thomas stopped a half-hearted attempt from Chris Higgins on a partial breakaway, but that's about it.  The Boston Bruins simply shutdown the Canucks, and allowed them to generate virtually nothing all night.

Game 5 back in Vancouver will challenge Roberto Luongo to step up once again.  Thomas and Luongo have both been nominated for the Vezina trophy as the league's best goaltender during the regular season, and with Thomas as the prohibitive favourite, Luongo has to up his game and steal one for the Canucks this time around.  In fact, just being equal to Thomas should be enough.  The Bruins have had dominant shifts at times, but are never all that intimidating in the offensive zone, at least not with scoring ability.

Sure they ran up the score late in Game 3, but their offense doesn't really intimidate anyone.  The problem for the Canucks is, their offense hasn't intimidated anyone either.  After an 0/8 powerplay in Game 3, their 0/6 effort tonight wasn't much better - although they didn't surrender a shorthanded goal.

So despite their lack of offense in Boston, the Canucks return home and will attempt to re-take the lead in the series.  For Roberto Luongo, his reputation and legacy will be on the line yet again.  Fair or not, the level of scrutiny on him is absolutely unreal.  Until he wins it all, people will question him.

Game 5 goes Friday at 5pm Pacific at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

Be sure to check out our breakdown of Game 4 and what the Canucks need to do in Game 5.

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