Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Vigneault confident in Luongo for Game 7

Categories: Boston Bruins, Stanley Cup Final, VAN vs. BOS, Vancouver Canucks

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Vancouver Canucks goaltenders Cory Schneider, left, and Roberto Luongo watch the last minute of the third period of Game 6 in a 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins in Boston, Monday. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press) Vancouver Canucks goaltenders Cory Schneider, left, and Roberto Luongo watch the last minute of the third period of Game 6 in a 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins in Boston, Monday. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)
By Tim Wharnsby, CBC Sports

BOSTON -- Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault has fibbed before.
He pulled the wool over our eyes when he remarked that he saw some positives with his power play in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final and that it was about to break out of its funk. He didn't tell truth when he declared goalie Roberto Luongo as his Game 6 starter in the first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks, only to push backup Cory Schneider into action.

But Vigneault was believable after his team's shoddy 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins that has forced a seventh and deciding game back in Vancouver on Wednesday.

"He knows he's going back in next game," the Canucks coach said. "He's going to be real good.

"I don't have to say anything to him. He's a professional. His preparation is beyond reproach and he's going to be ready for Game 7."

Luongo has proven this spring an uncanny ability to bounce back. He struggled mightily in Games 4 and 5 of that series against the Blackhawks, only to rebound to dethrone the defending Stanley Cup champs in overtime in Game 7.

After a pair of poor outings in Boston last week, he returned home to pitch a 1-0 shutout in Game 5. He talked after that strong effort about his walk around the seawall in Vancouver's Stanley Park and how the same stroll worked before that critical Game 7 in the opening round, so he went back to his serene saunter with his hoody up and his headphones cranked.

You can bet Luongo will be back on the seawall on Wednesday. If he gets his groove back again, and the Canucks celebrate the first Stanley Cup championship in their 40-season history, the parade route may want to include a detour to the Luongo's peaceful path.

"I've got to believe in myself, right," Luongo said. "That's a big component of bouncing back.

"Obviously, I would have like to have been better in this game, but like I said I now have another chance in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final, which is what you dream of when you're a kid."

It's easy to blame Luongo for Monday's loss. He admitted that he should have stopped the first goal from Boston's Brad Marchand. Milan Lucic's second goal snuck through his pads. But what has been so astonishing has been how the Canucks succeeded in so many areas in the regular season to win the Presidents' Trophy and have failed in those same areas in the final.

The league leaders in offence have checked in with only eight goals in six games. They also led the NHL in defence, but have surrendered a whopping 19. The top-ranked power play has gone 2-for-31 -- it also has yielded two shorthanded goals -- and the third-best penalty killing unit in the regular season has allowed the Bruins to go 5-for-26 in the series. This wouldn't be such a big deal, but the Bruins scored only five power-play goals in the previous three rounds.

Still, the Canucks did win the Presidents' Trophy and with that regular season championship comes home ice, a place the Canucks have been rocked and rolled all season. History is on the home team's side in the seventh game of the Stanley Cup final. Of the previous 15 times the final has been extended to its limit, the home team has won 12.

But the Canucks only make it 13 if Luongo's visit to the seawall not only prepares himself for his best game, but his teammates, too.