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Instant Analysis: Luongo poses confidence question

Monday, 06.13.2011 / 11:24 PM / 2011 Stanley Cup Final - Canucks v Bruins

By EJ Hradek - NHL.com Analyst

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Instant Analysis: Luongo poses confidence question
All the trends in this crazy, goofy Stanley Cup Final held true on Monday night in Boston. The home team won. The team that scored first won. And, of course, being that the game wasn't in Vancouver, Roberto Luongo was terrible.

The Canucks starter, who inexplicably started a media firestorm after a strong Game 5 performance with his critique of rival goaltender Tim Thomas, was pulled at the 8:35 mark of the first period after surrendering three goals on eight shots.

Luongo sabotaged his team's early efforts by allowing Brad Marchand's bad-angle wrister to go over his glove, short side, at the 5:31 mark of the first period. Then, just 35 seconds later, Milan Lucic's shot from the left circle squeaked through Luongo.

Those two goals had to give the Bruins a huge emotional lift while deflating the Canucks. After misplaying a power-play point shot from Andrew Ference (Luongo appeared to be expecting a redirection), Luongo was gone, replaced by backup Cory Schneider for the second time in the series.

After his last two visits to Beantown, I can't imagine that Luongo will be vacationing in the Hub anytime soon. The numbers are beyond ugly. In his three starts at the TD Bank Garden, Luongo has an 8.05 goals-against average and a .773 save percentage.

Of course, back home, Luongo has beaten the Bs three times, twice by shutout. Can he do it again? After last night, I don't know if there are too many folks willing to bet on it.

*Thomas fired a shot back across the bow at Luongo during pre-game warm-up … literally. The Bruins goalie carried a puck onto the ice with him. When he came through the gate, he dropped the biscuit and fired it into the Canucks empty net. It was a little gamesmanship on his part. And, as it turned out, it foreshadowed what was to come. (SEE VIDEO BELOW)

* When you're playing for the Stanley Cup, I know just about anything goes. Still, I didn't like the way Bruins D Johnny Boychuk finished his check with force on vulnerable Canucks winger Mason Raymond into the corner boards on the game's very first shift.

The two men engaged with one another as they jockeyed to get to a loose puck. Raymond got turned around -- facing away from the boards and into Boychuk. Raymond was also bent over at the waist. Boychuk could have released Raymond or, at the least, eased up on finishing his check. He did neither. Instead, he used his 6'2, 225-pound frame to drive Raymond into the boards backward, seemingly jamming his head and neck into Boychuk's torso.

While it's probably too much to ask a rugged defender playing for these type of stakes to hold up just 20 seconds into an elimination game, but it doesn't mean we have to accept it. If nothing else, it should have been a boarding penalty. The puck was long gone when the play got to the boards.

Raymond went down and stayed down. Team trainers would have been better advised to call for the stretcher. Eventually, he was helped off by two teammates. Later, after being examined in the visitors' dressing room, he was taken via stretcher to the hospital. I'm not going to hazard a guess as to the severity of his injury, but I'd be more than surprised to see him in uniform for Game 7.

For the remainder of the game, Vigneault juggled his three other right wings (Alex Burrows, Jannik Hanson and Victor Oreskovich) in Raymond's spot alongside C Ryan Kesler and LW Chris Higgins.

If Raymond can't go on Wednesday, Vigneault will have a roster decision to make. In previous games during this series, he has dressed Jeff Tambellini and Alexandre Bolduc. Personally, I might opt for Cody Hodgson.

* Bruins' fourth line RW Shawn Thornton was credited with seven hits and three shots on 14 shifts over 10:08 minutes. He has been a factor since being inserted into the lineup for Game 3; although less so during Game 5 in Vancouver when he got only four minutes of ice because of multiple penalties and the tight nature of the contest.

In Game 7, Boston head coach Claude Julien must find a way to get Thornton his eight-to-10 minutes. He's a straight ahead player who can deliver a blow on the forecheck and can get to the net to disrupt Luongo. In their three road losses, the Bruins have sometimes gotten away from that simple north-south approach. Thornton is a guy that can keep them on track with the occasional energy shift.

* The Bruins' first-period barrage was a record-setting one. The four goals – scored in just 4:14 minutes – set a record for the quickest four markers scored by one team in a Cup final game. The 1956 Canadiens owned the previous mark, putting four on the Red Wings in just 5:29 minutes during Game 4 of the championship series.

* The Canucks spread out their first-period woes. Fifteen of the clubs 18 skaters earned a minus-1 rating for the opening 20 minutes. Tanner Glass, Hansen and Raymond (who played just 20 seconds) were the only Vancouver skaters that didn't get tagged with a minus in the first stanza.

* In another strange footnote to the series, the league's oldest player, 43-year-old Mark Recchi, leads both clubs with six points. It's really funny when you consider that he was fighting off the critics after Game 1.

* If nothing else, Henrik Sedin can be happy to finally get a point in the series. He scored the Canucks' first goal on the power play early in the third period. Sedin likely would still be scoreless had Bs D-man Zdeno Chara not opted to skate out of position in the neutral zone to finish a check on Canucks defender Christian Ehrhoff. At this point, I guess Sedin will take the goals however he can get them.

Quote of the Day

[He's] real confident with the puck now, getting it off his stick quick and no second-guessing. We need that. He's such a good guy in the room. He works so hard. That's the big thing. For not a big man, he just fights for every puck and when he scores, the guys appreciate that even more.

— Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice on Mathieu Perreault, who scored two goals in win against Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday