- Scott Burnside, NHL
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BOSTON -- Apparently that memo on "winning with grace" never quite got to Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo.
With the Vancouver Canucks one win from their first Stanley Cup championship, Luongo took the opportunity to twist the blade a little with his counterpart Tim Thomas after Game 5, then complained Saturday that Thomas hasn't said anything nice about him during the series.
Thank goodness for candor.
After posting his second 1-0 shutout of the series Friday to give the Canucks a 3-2 series lead against the Boston Bruins, Luongo got a dig in at Thomas and the Boston goalie's aggressive style, saying he didn't think Vancouver's Game 5-winning goal was a difficult save if you play your position.
Maxim Lapierre managed to tuck the puck behind Thomas early in the third period from along the goal line before Thomas could get back into position after a point shot from Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa.
"It's not hard if you're playing in the paint," Luongo said in his postgame news conference, raising many an eyebrow among the media gathered in Vancouver. "It's an easy save for me, but if you're wandering out and aggressive like he does, that's going to happen. He might make some saves that I won't, but in a case like that, we want to take advantage of a bounce like that and make sure we're in a good position to bury those."
Fast-forward to Saturday, when Luongo appeared to try to temper those comments before the Canucks boarded their flight to Boston in advance of Monday's Game 6. Well, maybe "temper" isn't exactly the right term.
Luongo said he meant no disrespect, but he seemed a bit bothered Thomas hasn't been paying him enough respect. (Both goalies are Vezina Trophy finalists this season.)
"I said he might make some saves that I don't. I was just saying, on that particular play, I would have played it different. That's the difference between me and him," Luongo told reporters. "I have been pumping his tires ever since the series started. I haven't heard one nice thing he had to say about me. That's the way it is."
Thomas was not available to the media in Boston on Saturday after the team arrived from Vancouver, but his teammates were aware of Luongo's comments and, for the most part, declined to be drawn into a war of words.
Well, sort of.
Boston coach Claude Julien, after insisting the media were making more of the comments than anyone else, pointed out that Thomas has allowed only six goals in five games.
"The guy that made those comments, I'm not sure how many he let in. I think you guys have a pretty good idea, so I don't think [Thomas] is going to lose sleep over that," Julien said.
He's right. We do know.
Luongo has allowed 14 goals, more than twice the number Thomas has allowed.
"Whatever, man. People choose to comment on things," Bruins winger Shawn Thornton said. "Some people like to chirp, some people don't. I think as a group, we're trying to take the high road. It's not really our M.O. Timmy's been our best player for a whole year, so comments are comments. I don't put too much stock into it."
Backup netminder Tuukka Rask had a similar reaction to the sharp comments from within the goaltending fraternity.
"I didn't see that interview, but I heard about it," Rask told ESPN.com. "It depends on the person. Obviously, you can say whatever you want. It's a free world. You can take your opinion on whatever you want, but I wouldn't blame Timmy on that goal in the first place."