-- If Kevin Weekes
had long hair, it would have blown backward as soon as he heard Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo
make the comment Friday night that is now spreading like wildfire across the landscape of the Stanley Cup Final.
When asked to give the goalie's perspective on how difficult it is to make a save when the puck springs off the end boards like it did leading Maxim Lapierre
's Game 5 winner, Luongo gave what was in all likelihood a verbal jab at his counterpart, Tim Thomas
"It's not hard if you're playing in the paint," Luongo said after the Canucks took a 3-2 lead in the series. "It's an easy save for me, but if you're wandering out and aggressive like he does, that's going to happen."
Weekes, who is analyzing the series on NHL Network, still can't believe Luongo said it. But, he thinks he knows why he did.
"I think for Roberto, it was him saying, 'Don't act like Timmy is a Lamborghini and I'm a Kia, and I'm just happy to be in the garage, because let's be real, I'm considered a super car, too,'" Weekes told NHL.com on Saturday. "I just think he was feeling good after that shutout, as he should have."
Luongo was coming off back-to-back brutal performances in Boston, when he gave up 12 goals on 58 shots before mercifully getting pulled 3:39 into the third period of Game 4. His critics were firing shots at him and the fans were grumbling about his poor play, but he tuned them all out and put together a 31-save shutout for a 1-0 victory Friday, putting the Canucks one win away from the Stanley Cup.
However, right or wrong, a day later the story has turned to what he said; not what he did.
Luongo toned down his rhetoric Saturday when he met with the media prior to boarding the team's flight to Boston, but he still didn't back off his stance.
"I've been pumping (Thomas') tires ever since the series started," Luongo said. "I haven't heard any one nice thing he's had to say about me, so that's the way it is."
Veteran NHL goalie Marty Turco
, who is keeping his own blog on NHL.com about this series while working alongside Weekes on NHL Network, believes the timing of Luongo's comments was poor. Turco wrote about it Saturday.
"He's under a lot of pressure and for him just saying it you know he's under a lot of pressure. He really wasn't thinking about it," Turco wrote. "It was Louie saying what is on his mind and he probably didn't think that it might create a little bit of attention that he doesn't want and they don't want at this moment."
Turco also wrote that he doesn't think the comment will have any effect on how the series plays out in the next couple of days.
"I personally don't think it's a big deal," Turco wrote. "I would advise against it at this time of the year, but at the end of the day it affects no one in those locker rooms or how the game is going to play. It may just affect headlines and the fervor of others."
Weekes, though, doesn't think Thomas is going to forget so easily.
"I think when asked about it, Timmy will think about the answer for 15 seconds, look at you like he has a chew in his mouth, and then he'll come into something along the lines of, 'I think I told you guys that I have really done a good job of isolating myself from you guys,'" Weekes said. "But, dow
n deep, Timmy is very fiery and it might give him a little extra jolt."
Thomas was not made available to the media at TD Garden on Saturday, but his backup, Tuukka Rask
, wrote in his personal series blog for NHL.com that Thomas will let Luongo's comments run right off his back.
"As I've said before, Timmy doesn't give two cents about what people say about his game," Rask wrote. "He just does his thing and tries to be the best guy he can be and hopefully get the wins. It doesn't really matter what people say."
Weekes thinks Luongo does care what others say, and that might have influenced his unprovoked jab at Thomas on Friday.
"If you are doing your job and you've got millions of people all over the world scrutinizing your job and how you do your job, hating on you, expecting you to fail and watching over you as you do your job, it's not very comfortable," Weekes said. "I think that was the reality with him -- a lot of haters, a lot of doubters, a lot of people that don't know him or the kind of person he is hoping he would fail. That's a tough spot to be in mentally. I think he handled it extremely well and I think it showed how tough he has become mentally.
"So, the comment, for me, was a case of him feeling good again and saying, 'You guys hated on me again and I had to prove myself again, and I did prove myself again.'"
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl