Following a shutout in Game 1 and a 28-save performance in Game 2, Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo looked to be a strong candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy — the award given to the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But after the Bruins erupted to put eight goals past the netminder in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, observers may wonder if the 32-year-old Luongo will be able to shrug off the poor performance going forward.
Earlier this postseason, Luongo made some surprising comments when he was benched in favor of backup Cory Schneider for Game 6 of the Canucks' first round series with the Blackhawks.
"He [Schneider] is just as good as I am and it doesn't matter who is in net," Luongo said prior to Chicago's 4-3 overtime win that sent the Western Conference quarterfinal series to a decisive Game 7.
"It's a team game," Luongo said. "Me and Schneids, we had the best goaltending duo all year long. I put the team ahead of myself…As a professional athlete, you are dealt all kinds of situations over a career and you learn to deal with it."
While Luongo took the high road in publicly supporting his backup, his statement that Schneider was his equal was surprising, as was his decision to solicit the Canucks' PR representative about how to answer questions prior to that series' Game 7.
This time around, Luongo took a different approach when dealing with his ability to bounce back after a loss.
"I've been through it a few times in my career," Luongo said during Tuesday's off day. "So I know what I need to do, and I'll be ready for Game 4."
Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault admitted he was ready to pull his starter during Monday night's blowout, but Luongo resisted being yanked.
"At 5-1, I asked him what he wanted to do," Vigneault said during Monday night's postgame news conference. "He said, 'Don't even think about taking me out.'"
The strategy backfired as the B's struck for three more scores in the final 2:21 of the third period.
No change in net is expected for Wednesday night's Game 4, but another shaky performance is sure to raise questions in Vancouver again. For now, Luongo's teammates deflected criticism away from their starter.
"Just like Chicago, we had a bad loss and were able to bounce back," defenseman Sami Salo said. "Not just the goalie. The whole team needs to bounce back. The guys in front of him didn't play as hard as they should have."
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