BOSTON (AP) - It’s 4-0 after two periods, and the Boston fans are taking great pleasure in Roberto Luongo’s struggles.
First came the chant of “We want Luongo!” Then a mocking “Luongo!” It’s usually accompanied by shots of signs in the crowd praising Tim Thomas: One fan superimposed Thomas‘ face on pictures of George Washington crossing the Delaware. Holding an American flag. Wearing a cape. You know, in case you didn’t get the point.
Through two periods, Thomas hasn’t allowed a goal at home in 106 minutes, 7 seconds, dating back to the third period of Game 3. (And that one shouldn’t really count, because it made the score 5-1 in a game Boston eventually won 8-1.)
Luongo, on the other hand … well, let’s add it up: 15 goals in his last 91 minutes, 52 seconds in Boston. He’s been pulled twice for Cory Schneider.
Of course, the last time he responded with a 1-0 shutout in Game 5 back in Vancouver.
The Canucks would be just fine with another in Game 7.
Some notes on the Boston scoring eruption: Marchand now has nine goals in the postseason, breaking the Bruins franchise record for a rookie that had been held by Mike Krushelnyski (1983) and Bobby Joyce (1988).
It also sparked a string of four goals in 4 minutes, 14 seconds, and that’s an NHL record for the fastest four goals by one team in the Stanley Cup finals. Montreal scored four in 5:29 against Detroit in 1956.
It was also Boston’s third four-goal period of the finals. That’s not a record, though: Three teams have scored five: Toronto in 1942, Chicago in ‘73 and Vancouver in ‘94, it’s last appearance in the finals.)
An update on the Mason Raymond injury.
Well, sort of.
The NHL has disclosed that Raymond suffered an “undisclosed injury” and was taken to a hospital for observation.
Here’s hoping that Raymond’s OK.
Here’s also hoping that the league someday shows as much concern for its players’ injuries as it does about keeping them secret.
You can’t blame the Canucks if they’re starting to think it just isn’t their night.
Vancouver had its best scoring chance of the game when Jannik Hansen got behind the defense for a breakaway, with no one between him and Tim Thomas. Hansen skated in and got the goalie to commit, but he couldn’t stuff the puck into the goal as Thomas sprawled onto the ice and got a pad in front of it.
That was with less than a minute to play in the first period. The teams are off the ice now, and the Bruins lead 4-0 after one.
That third Boston score was a power play goal _ the Bruins’ second in 26 chances in the Stanley Cup finals. For those of you new to hockey, that’s downright pathetic.
It hasn’t been much better in the rest of the playoffs. Boston entered Game 6 with just eight goals in 82 power plays over the previous 23 playoff games _ ranked 14th of the 16 playoff teams. (The only teams worse were the Rangers and Penguins, both first-round losers.)
For the record, Vancouver has three goals in the finals on 14 power plays coming into the night.
Nothing to brag about, either.
In the middle of all that scoring, even better news for the Bruins: Injured forward Nathan Horton is in the building, and they showed him smiling and waving on the scoreboard during a timeout. The last time we saw him, he was strapped to a stretcher and wheeled off the ice after being flattened by Aaron Rome in Game 3.
Horton’s teammates joined the crowd in an emotional welcome, banging their sticks against the boards in the traditional hockey method of applause.
Horton is out for the series with a severe concussion, and Rome was suspended for the last four games of the series.
And here we go again.
Just like in Games 3 and 4 in Boston, the Bruins are scoring in bunches. The public address announcer had just started giving the details of Brad Marchand’s goal at the 5:31 mark when Milan Lucic scored to give Boston a 2-0 lead. Lucic scored on a nice drop pass from Rich Peverley. And two minutes after that, the Bruins took a 3-0 lead when Andrew Ference scored.
That was it for Roberto Luongo, who was also pulled in Game 4 after giving up 12 goals in four-plus periods.
Cory Schneider came on for the Canucks, but it didn’t get much better: He allowed a goal on the second shot he faced, a slapshot from Tomas Kaberle that was deflected by Michael Ryder.
The final line on Luongo: five saves on eight shots.
The first two goals were 35 seconds apart, and it was 4-0 less than 4 minutes later.
Twenty seconds in, and we’ve got what looks like a serious injury to Canucks forward Mason Raymond.
It didn’t seem that dangerous of a play _ Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk rode Raymond into the boards, and not all that hard. But Raymond hit with his butt first, and the awkward position might have left him vulnerable. He went down on his stomach and lay there while the trainers talked to him. He eventually skated off with a teammate on each arm.
No penalty on the play. About 30 seconds later Zdeno Chara went off for interference and Henrik Sedin was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for taking a dive.
The Stanley Cup finals are still very much up for grabs, but the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP is increasingly looking like a one-man race.
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas looks like a sure thing if Boston can win Games 6 and 7.
But he also might be the favorite if the Bruins lose.
It’s not unprecedented for a player on the losing team in the finals to be named playoff MVP. It’s happened five times since the award was created in 1965 (four of them were goalies; Flyers right wing Reggie Leach was the other.) The last player to get his name on the Conn Smythe but not the Stanley Cup was Jean-Sebastien Giguere of Anaheim in 2003.
So far, there’s no standout candidate from Vancouver.
Even with two shutouts, goalie Roberto Luongo probably killed his chances by giving up 12 goals in two games in Boston last week. Henrik Sedin has 21 points so far in the playoffs, but none of them in the finals. Ryan Kesler has 19 points so far and could be the choice with a game-winner tonight or Wednesday. Alex Burrows won Game 2 with an overtime goal, but will the image of him biting Patrice Bergeron hurt his chances?
That leaves Thomas, who’s likely to win his second Vezina Trophy after a historic season and could be honored for the playoffs as well. He’s only given up six goals in five games of the finals, with a save percentage of .965 that is the third best in finals history. In the playoffs he has three shutouts, a 2.07 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage.
Of course, there’s still at least one more game to play.
And the faceoff is minutes away.