Only a few more hours until gametime; here are some quick thoughts.
Because there are a few in the mainstream media who refuse to play Roberto Luongo’s full quote on Tim Thomas right after the Canucks’ game 5 victory, I’ve embedded the video for you to see. At the 2:22 mark, a reporter asked Luongo, “Roberto, could you just talk about the goal, and from a goalie’s perspective, how difficult it is to play a shot off the end boards when it comes from a weird angle so it goes off Tim’s body… just how hard it is?” Luongo’s full response was, “It’s not hard if you’re playing in the point so it’s an easy save for me, but if you’re wandering out and aggressive like he does then that’s gonna happen. He might make some saves like I won’t but in cases like that, I mean we want to take advantages of bounces like that and make sure we’re in good position to bury those.” Of course, only part of Luongo’s response is being reported and this has started yet another sideshow to these playoffs. Maybe I’m being too idealistic, but it would have been nice if the media reported the full, accurate story and in its proper context rather than manipulating it for eyeballs and cheap website hits.
By now, you’ve probably read that Tim Thomas has already been awarded the Conn Smythe trophy awarded to the player judged most valuable to his team during the playoffs. I know it probably won’t change minds out there, but IMHO, Roberto Luongo should get some consideration. Yes, he’s had some bad games (games 4 and 5 against Chicago and games 3 and 4 against Boston), but so has Thomas (allowed 4+ goals in 4 of 7 games against Tampa Bay). Taking the entire playoffs into account, Luongo has only allowed 6 more goals over 23 games than Thomas has. But perhaps the most telling statistic is that the Canucks are only one win away from their first-ever Stanley Cup while averaging a piddly 2.44 goals per game (ranked 13th of 16 playoff teams). They’ve only scored 6 goals in 5 SCF games, yet lead the series 3-2. As much as the Canucks haven’t been able to put the puck in the net consistently in the playoffs, they’ve been that much better at keeping the puck out. And Bobby Lou deserves some credit for that.
It shouldn’t be a secret that Ryan Kesler is playing hurt. It’s obvious when you see him on the ice. Near the end of game 5, he had the puck near center ice with a chance for an empty-netter, but a Bruins player caught up to him and took away the opportunity; that doesn’t happen a couple of weeks ago. Regardless, Kes hasn’t stopped battling, mostly against Patrice Bergeron’s line but sometimes against David Krejci’s. He’s still on the powerplay fighting against Zdeno Chara, and still on the first PK unit. In short, his play reminds me of Steve Yzerman’s in 2002, and I wish more people would talk about this than wasting more ink on painting the Canucks as the dirtiest, most evil, despicable team in the history of the NHL.
Some numbers to chew on (via whowins.com): Only 4 out of 9 times (44.4%) has the team in the Canucks’ situation (i.e. win the first 2 games at home, lose the next 2 games on the road and win game 5 at home) won game 6; however, that team has also historically won game 7 at home 77.8% of the time. But before we brace ourselves for a game 7, also consider this – 3 times in their history, the Bruins have trailed 2-3 in the Stanley Cup Finals; all 3 times, they’ve lost game 6.
I’ve tried to remain even-keel for this entire season, but I’ll admit it’s getting harder not to get too excited. I felt myself getting emotional at Rogers Arena after game 5. I can’t imagine how I’d react if the boys do get one more win.