Cup finals goalies stick to different styles
Robert Luongo and Tim Thomas have drastically different styles
with one overriding similarity.
The stay-at-home goalie and the roamer are two of the NHL’s best
at their position.
At times, the approach that has worked so well fails: Thomas
vacating the net on an overtime goal that gave Vancouver a win in
Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals, then Luongo filling the crease
with his full 6-foot-3 height but still letting eight goals fly by
in Boston’s win in Game 3.
But their biggest mistake would be to change their styles.
They’re not about to do that in Game 4 on Wednesday night with
the Canucks leading the Bruins 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
”I’ve been playing well all year. I think it’s worked out
pretty well for me,” Luongo said Tuesday, the day after the 8-1
loss. ”I made some adjustments before the year started, so I’m not
going to readjust again.”
The Bruins lost the first two games 1-0 and 3-2, although Thomas
played well. But when Alex Burrows charged ahead in Game 2, Thomas
went out to cut down the angle. Burrows skated around him and
continued behind the net, then tucked the puck in the far side 11
seconds into overtime.
”I have a pretty good idea of how to play goalie,” Thomas said
with a smile after the loss. ”I’m not going to be taking
suggestions or advice at this time. I’m just going to keep playing
the way I have.”
Thomas led the NHL with a 2.00 goals against average. Luongo was
second at 2.11. Thomas also topped the league with a .938 save
percentage. Luongo was third among starting goalies at .928.
That pair, plus Pekka Rinne of Nashville, are the finalists for
the Vezina Trophy. In 2009, Thomas won the award given to the NHL’s
Though they may have occasional lapses, the goalies in the
finals also have the confidence of their teammates and coaches.
While the Bruins’ offensive onslaught grabbed the spotlight,
Thomas allowed just one goal on 41 shots.
”When you look at the final score, you don’t think he had any
impact on the game, but he had a big impact on the game,” Boston
coach Claude Julien said. ”When it’s 2-0, some of those big saves,
to keep it to that score until we’ve scored the third one (were
critical). If it’s a 2-1 hockey game, now you’re giving the other
team some light and it could have been a different outcome.”
Both goalies were sharp through a scoreless first period.
Then the Bruins caught a break when Andrew Ference scored the
first goal after Vancouver’s Alexander Edler broke his stick trying
to clear the puck. Mark Recchi was credited with the second goal
when his pass into the crease deflected into the net off the stick
of Canucks forward Ryan Kesler.
”They got a couple of fortunate bounces and then, all of a
sudden, the floodgates open and maybe they get a little bit of
confidence,” Luongo said.
He allowed three more goals in the last 2 1/2 minutes of the
game, but there was plenty of blame to go around – and a lot of
faith that Luongo would bounce right back.
”He’s done it all year, so that’s not a problem,” NHL scoring
champion Daniel Sedin said. ”You can’t really say it was his
fault. I think, as a team, we didn’t help him out. They scored (two
goals) on the power play and (two) on our power play, which should
Luongo doesn’t have to go very far back to remember the last
time he struggled.
Vancouver won the first three games of the opening round against
Chicago. One more win and the Canucks would be on to the next
round. But they lost the next two, with Luongo being pulled from
both of them. Cory Schneider started Game 6 before cramps forced
him to the bench and brought in Luongo.
Vancouver lost that game but won the seventh – behind
Now he has just one day off to recover.
”This is the Stanley Cup finals,” Luongo said. ”I’ve waited
my whole life to be here. I’m not going to put my head down. It’s
time to get back to work. Obviously, (Monday) night was
disappointing for all of us, but we’ve got a great opportunity
Now that the teams have faced each other three times in six
days, they might have a better idea about how to beat the opposing
goalie. But it’s not that easy, especially when they’re so
”It’s not like there’s some special book that’s floating around
on how to beat them,” Ference said. ”It’s really just about being
consistent with throwing pucks at the net. Playoff goals, you
always hear about the greasy ones and traffic in front of the net
”It’s no secret. Every team would probably say the exact same
comments about our goalie. Because they’re good goalies, that’s the
only way you beat them. You don’t get them on clean shots from the
Not very often anyway, even after a horrible game like the one
Luongo must bounce back from.
”This is part of goaltending and you have to have a short
memory. You can’t dwell on what happened,” he said. ”It might
even be easier to bounce back from a game like (Monday) night
realizing that we didn’t have our best game and we just need to