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Final vanCouver vs. BoSton CanuCkS BruinS Series tied 0-0
GAME 1, WEdnEsdAy Boston at Vancouver, 8 p.m., CBC GAME 2, sAturdAy Boston 6 at Vancouver, 8 p.m., CBC GAME 3, JunE 6 Vancouver at Boston, 8 p.m., CBC GAME 4, JunE 8 Vancouver at Boston, 8 p.m., CBC GAME 5, JunE 10 *-Boston at Vancouver, 8 p.m., CBC GAME 6, JunE 13 *-Vancouver at Boston, 8 p.m., CBC GAME 7, JunE 15 *-Boston at Vancouver, 8 p.m., CBC
luongo past the pressure
P 21 20 19 18 17 17 17 17 16 16 15 15 15 14 14 14 13 13 13 12 12 12 11 11 11 11 11 10 10 10 10 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 8 8 8 VANCOUVER — You would think an Olympic gold medal would have finally muzzled the critics. You would think that, whether he was shaky or not, the fact that Roberto Luongo had been the winning goalie for Canada at the magnificent 2010 Winter Games here in Vancouver 15 months ago finally would have stopped all those Louie-bashers from asking that same old tired question. “What’s Roberto Luongo ever won?” He has been hearing that for years. Even today, gold medal or no gold medal, he still is. “That still hasn’t changed,” a chuckling Luongo told the QMI Agency on Monday afternoon. Maybe not. But what has changed is Roberto Luongo himself. In years past, the fact that even an Olympic crown was not enough to shut up his naysayers would have eaten away at him. Even if he hadn’t been on the top of his game for Team Canada, it was good enough in the end. Not in the minds of some observers, however. No matter. This was a different Roberto Luongo, a guy who no longer seems to take every barb to heart. And you can point to a moment last month as a key in this change of attitude, one that brought clarity to the Vancouver Canucks goaltender. Back in late April, hours before of Game 7 of the first round series between the Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks, Luongo,
NHL PLayoffs: Canucks goalie has changed for the better
wearing a hoody and headphones, walked along the sea wall that separates Vancouver from the Pacific. With the hoody pulled over his head, most passers-by had no clue it was him. This was his way, he admits now, “of clearing my head, of putting things into perspective.” Asked what was playing on his headphones at the time, Luongo replied: “Well, it wasn’t Celine Dion.” What it was, was a motivational tape, something he needed at that point. In the previous contest, Luongo had been benched for Game 6 against the Hawks in favour of backup Cory Schneider. Only after Schneider was hurt in the third period was Luongo brought into the game, which eventually was won by Chicago in overtime. Now, here it was, just hours before Game 7, and Roberto Luongo was alone with his thoughts as he strolled along the waterfront. “Things had gone up and down for me,” he admitted. “But I told myself, “How bad can it be? You are in the Stanley Cup playoffs. You are in the NHL. “I’ve only done a (walk) like that on a couple of occasions but it helped put me in the right frame of mind.” Several hours later, Luongo
G Henrik Sedin, VAN 2 Martin St Louis, TBL 10 V. Lecavalier, TBL 6 Ryan Kesler, VAN 7 Teddy Purcell, TBL 6 Joe Thornton, SJS 3 David Krejci, BOS 10 Nathan Horton, BOS 8 Daniel Sedin, VAN 8 Dan Boyle, SJS 4 Ryane Clowe, SJS 6 P. Bergeron, BOS 4 Pavel Datsyuk, DET 4 A. Burrows, VAN 7 Logan Couture, SJS 7 Steve Downie, TBL 2 Joel Ward, NSH 7 Steve Stamkos, TBL 6 Patrick Marleau, SJS 7 Brad Marchand, BOS 6 Simon Gagne, TBL 5 Claude Giroux, PHI 1 S. Bergenheim, TBL 9 Michael Ryder, BOS 5 Chris Kelly, BOS 4 Dominic Moore, TBL 3 C. Ehrhoff, VAN 2 D. Setoguchi, SJS 7 Joe Pavelski, SJS 5 Alex Ovechkin, WSH 5 Mike Cammalleri, MTL 3 Danny Briere, PHI 7 David Legwand, NSH 6 Kevin Bieksa, VAN 5 Dany Heatley, SJS 3 Milan Lucic, BOS 3 Alexander Edler, VAN 2 Ian White, SJS 1 Nicklas Lidstrom 4 Henrik Zetterberg 3 Mason Raymond 2 A 19 10 13 11 11 14 7 9 8 12 9 11 11 7 7 12 6 7 6 6 7 11 2 6 7 8 9 3 5 5 7 2 3 4 6 6 7 8 4 5 6
held the Hawks off the scoresheet for most of the game. Even when Jonathan Toews tied the contest 1-1 with less than two minutes remaining, Luongo did not second guess himself, even when many inside the packed arena were doing exactly that. Alex Burrows would go on to score the overtime winner, a huge goal that sent the Canucks on a 9-3 run and a birth in the final against the Boston Bruins — all with Roberto Luongo in goal. “You learn a lot along the way,” Luongo said. “I think I’ve learned more about myself during these playoffs than (I ever have) as far as growing, maturing and, more than anything else, handling things mentally. “I cant control (what people say). I just want to win a Cup for myself and my teammates. That’s what I play hockey for. As long as I have the confidence of my friends and my family, that’s all I need.” Yes, the Olympics did build up his confidence. But there have been other factors too. “I use a lot of things that have helped me ... like the (Olympics), like Game 7 against the Blackhawks, like overtimes. It’s a different animal, the playoffs. It’s best out of seven, it’s a grind, you see the same team every night. “There are some similarities with the Olympics, but for the most part it’s much different.” Just like Roberto Luongo is. For the better, too. email@example.com Twitter.com/zeisberger
The butt stops here: Chara doesn’t scare Lu
Eric BoltE QMI Agency
Vancouver canucks goalie roberto luongo strikes his best Ken Dryden pose during practice yesterday in Vancouver.
VANCOUVER — If 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara wants to park his towering butt in front of Roberto Luongo’s face, the Vancouver Canucks goaltender has a simple game plan to offset that. Don’t wake the sleeping giant.
“Myself, I prefer to leave him by himself. That way it will be easier for me to pick up the puck,” Luongo said on Monday. In the past, Luongo has been rattled when big bodies like Dustin Byfuglien planted roots
on his doorstep. But according to Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, Luongo changed his style this year, playing deeper in his net instead of jostling with opposing forwards for position. — Mike Zeisberger
nHl insider gives vancouver edge
NHL PLayoffs: Western Conference coach breaks down series against Bruins
On paper, this is no contest. The Vancouver Canucks, the Presidents Trophy winners, should take one look at the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup final and walk right past them before carrying the coveted mug down Robson St. next month. But there are no guarantees for the Canucks as they attempt to become the first team since the Montreal Canadiens in 1993 to bring the Cup north of the border. With those thoughts in mind, we asked a Western Conference coach to help break down the Cup final that begins Wednesday at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
But, he noted: “Thomas has the ability to steal games. I really can’t wait to see how this plays out.” EDGE: Even.
The Canucks have a decision to make on centre Manny Malhotra. Does he or doesn’t he play? Yes, it’s great that he has been cleared to return after an injury to his left eye, but do the Canucks risk the chemistry they’ve built up through the course of the playoffs? “There’s the emotional lift you’d get,” the coach said. “But if he’s only going to play at 75 or 80%, what do you get out of him? Is that good enough at this point of the year? “This is a time when (the Canucks) don’t seem to have many holes to fill in their roster. The guys they have seem to be doing a great job. That’d be a real tough call.” The other area to watch is the power play. The Bruins are operating at only an 8% success rate during the playoffs while the Canucks are at 28%. “The Vancouver power play is so dynamic,” the coach said. EDGE: Canucks
Winnipeg news may come by today
Could the suspense finally be over? Both TSN and Sportsnet are reporting that the relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg could be officially announced on Tuesday morning and a Winnipeg source supported the theory. Bob McKenzie of TSN tweeted that “WPG lawyers signed off on their end. ATL lawyers doing their due diligence now. Soon as they sign off, deal is done, pending board approval. If ATL lawyers sign off today, announcement tomorrow morning. If ATL lawyers don’t sign off today, drags out another day or two.” Darren Dreger of TSN added: “The waiting continues. True North is waiting for Atlanta Spirit to complete some of its legal fine tuning. It’s now an hour by hour wait.” Meanwhile, Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet says “barring any lastminute changes, the plan is to formally announce the Thrashers move to Winnipeg as early as 10 a.m. Tuesday.” It’s believed the NHL would like to get the announcement out of the way before the Stanley Cup final between the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins opens on Wednesday at Rogers Arena. “Bettman really pushing announcement before Gm 1 begins. Despite time line hard to believe Canada’s biggest story won’t overshadow it,” Kypreos tweeted. True North Sports & Entertainment is believed to have made an offer to purchase the Thrashers from the Atlanta Spirit Group for $170 million and move them to the MTS Centre in time for the 2011-12 season.
The Bruins don’t boast the star power that Vancouver has: Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows. That’s just the top guys. The Canucks are deep while the Bruins spread the scoring around, relying mainly on Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic. “It’s a tough matchup for Boston because the Sedins are back on track after a tough series against Nashville,” the coach said. “They’re firing on all cylinders and that’s a scary thing when you’re up against them. The way they look right now and the way the puck is going in for them, it’s a daunting proposition.” The Bruins lack a gamebreaker. “I just don’t think Boston has a forward at the level of the Sedins,” he said. “If the Bruins are going to win they have to control the neutral zone and they have to stay out of the penalty box.” EDGE: Canucks
Vancouver’s ryan Kesler, left, and Manny Malhotra get ready for Game 1 of the Stanley cup final.
assigned the job of shutting down the Sedins with partner Dennis Seidenberg, but it won’t be easy for Boston to get that matchup in Vancouver. “(Chara) has to play against the Sedins. Coming out of Nashville, you might have wanted him against Kesler,” the coach said. “In the games in Vancouver, the Canucks are going to want Kesler trying to wear down Chara, and Boston isn’t going to be able to get the matchup they want.” Kevin Bieksa has been the Canucks’ best defenceman. “The biggest surprise has been Bieksa,” the coach said. “He was never a guy who would have been considered to be thrust into that offensive role. He has scored some big goals, including the series-clincher against San Jose. But he has really picked his game up and he’s playing with an edge.” EDGE: Canucks
Eric BoltE QMI Agency
Vancouver’s Alain Vigneault and Boston’s Claude Julien have taken similar paths to get here. Neither is flashy like Tampa’s Guy Boucher. Both get the job done. “Anytime you get your team to this level you’ve done a really good job of getting your players on the same page,” the coach said. “I don’t think there’s any edge here. They’re going to make the right decisions, the right adjustments in the series. They’ll do a good job of letting the players decide who wins. It should be a good series.” EDGE: Even
This is the area to watch for both teams. The Canucks’ Roberto Luongo is going to be the one with pressure and expectations while the Bruins’ Tim Thomas may be wondering if this is his last shot at a Cup. “Anytime you haven’t won a Stanley Cup there’s always an internal clock going there,” the coach said. “Thomas has to be
Big Zdeno Chara will have his hands full and so will the rest of the Bruins defence. Chara will be
thinking, ‘How many more chances am I going to get?’ There’s more pressure for him than maybe appears, but the eye of the goaltending focus is going to be on Luongo.” Luongo has the hopes and dreams of a country on his shoulders, just as he did at the 2010 Olympics. “He has been questioned a lot,” the coach said. “He was questioned in the Olympics and came through. He was questioned early on in these playoffs and came through. Luongo has looked to me like he has handled the pressure a little bit better than previous years. Maybe that’s a step in maturity and experience.”
tHE CoaCH PiCKs...
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