BOSTON — The war of words between the Bruins and Canucks in this Stanley Cup Final has taken an odd twist.
Hearing the clubs air their grievances with each other through the media is one thing. But the strangest complaint of all may have come from Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, who appears to just want a little love from his Boston counterpart.
Luongo began this latest verbal skirmish himself when he said after Vancouver's 1-0 win in Game 5 that the goal Tim Thomas surrendered to Maxim Lapierre on a carom off the endboards would have been "an easy save for me, but if you're wandering out and aggressive like [Thomas] does, that's going to happen."
Predictably, such comments drew a backlash in Boston, and Luongo backtracked a bit on Saturday. Well, he didn't actually recant his statement that he would have made the save on Lapierre that Thomas didn't; he just complained that Thomas hadn't complimented him enough.
"I have been pumping his tires ever since the series started," Luongo said. "I haven't heard one nice thing he had to say about me. That's the way it is."
After the Bruins' final practice of the season at the Garden on Sunday, Thomas responded.
"I didn't realize it was my job to pump his tires," Thomas said with a laugh. "I guess I have to apologize for that.
"I still think I'm on the goaltenders union's side and I stick with all the other goalies," Thomas added. "Being one and knowing what it takes to perform at this level and with this amount of pressure, I understand to a certain extent what every other goaltender is going through. So I guess that's that."
That's unlikely. This series has produced an endless stream of trash talking on and off the ice that is doubtful to end anytime soon, though Thomas has tried to stay above the fray.
"I did hear about what he said, but I don't really want to go into that," Thomas said. "My focus is on what I can do to help my team win going into Game 6 here. It's obviously a must-win game and I think it's very important for our whole team to focus on that game and what we can do on the ice."
Thomas' teammates aren't worried about their netminder's ability to stay focused for the franchise's most important game in decades as they try to stay alive in Game 6 on Monday and force a decisive Game 7 back in Vancouver.
"He's definitely mentally strong," forward Gregory Campbell said. "I haven't read the stories or seen the quotes, but knowing Timmy I don't think it fazes him whatsoever. He's usually in his own little bubble. He's a confident guy. He's confident in how he plays, and why shouldn't he be? He's brought this team as far as we are and he's one of the best goalies, if not the best goalie, in the NHL right now. A couple quotes here and there I don't think are going to bother him."
Luongo's comments are far from the only verbal jabs being thrown. Analyst Mike Milbury has drawn some head for calling Vancouver star twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin "Thelma and Louise," but Thomas defended his team's role in the trash talking, though he did admit to being entertained in the past to similar episodes being played out between other teams.
"What Mike Milbury says is totally outside of anything that happens in the locker room and I know nobody on our team talks specifically about guys on the other team in that way," Thomas said. "I think we've done a good job of focusing on the important things, which is what you can do on the ice and I think that's what helped us to get this far. As a player, I think that's your job. There is obviously going to be talk in the media and they're going to talk about a whole bunch of different topics and that's fine. When I watched playoffs in the past, sometimes it's fun to listen to some of the stuff that is said, but when you're playing, I think the best course is to remain focused on what you can control and really the only thing you can control is what you do on the ice."