Luongo was left behind the 8-ball

By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / June 8, 2011

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Usually, when a goalie is getting shelled during a game — no matter the level — the coach takes him out. Sometimes a goalie change can spark a team to play differently (read: better) and sometimes the coach removes him just to give him refuge from an opponent’s barrage.

But Canucks coach Alain Vigneault left Roberto Luongo in for all eight goals during the Bruins’ 8-1 victory in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Vigneault gave the veteran the option when it was 5-1, and Luongo elected to stay in.

“Alain asked me when there was about eight minutes left,’’ said Luongo, who wound up with 30 saves. “I said I wanted to stay in. If I would’ve known they would have scored three more times, I might have thought about it.’’

Luongo’s comments brought laughter from the media members at Boston University’s Case Gymnasium yesterday, but he said he hadn’t felt the need to exit.

“Even though we were losing, 5-1, it was a pretty intense game and I still wanted to be in there,’’ he said. “Obviously, they kept putting the pressure on.

“The game was pretty much out of reach for us. I don’t know. I mean, they obviously were not satisfied with 5-1 and kept pressing. We started maybe taking our attention away from our game plan, started worrying about the physical aspects of the game, which we shouldn’t be doing at this point.’’

Asked about bouncing back, Luongo said he and his team have been resilient throughout the postseason and he sees no reason that would change.

“It’s all about winning a game, right?’’ he said. “As a team, we’ve got to look at it as we lost a game. We’ve just got to get back to doing the things we do. No matter what the score of the game is, we have to keep playing our game, not deviate from our game plan.’’

Luongo went through a tough stretch in the Western Conference quarterfinals against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks. After the Canucks went up, three games to none, Luongo dropped three straight.

Prior to Monday night, though, he had bounced back strong, going 11-3. Luongo brushed aside any questions about the long-term effects of Game 3.

“I’ve waited my whole life to be here,’’ he said. “I’m not going to put my head down. It’s time to get back to work. Obviously, it was very disappointing for all of us. We have a great opportunity. We’re in the Cup Final.’’

Calling out reserves
The Canucks were already without defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who was injured in Game 1 of the Final, and with Aaron Rome suspended for the remainder of the series, Vigneault has to go to the reserves to fill the void on defense. In Game 2, he installed former Bruin Andrew Alberts, and tonight Keith Ballard might get the call. “All year long, we’ve used quite a few defensemen,’’ said Vigneault. “We’ve been able to keep on winning. Obviously, this is the Stanley Cup Final, the two best teams in the league. It’s a little bit more challenging.’’ . . . The Canucks have punished opponents with their power play this season, but it has not been very effective against the Bruins. Vancouver was 0 for 6 in Game 1, 1 for 2 in Game 2, and 0 for 8 in Game 3. “We looked at it today with our units,’’ said Vigneault. “We’re not that far away. We’re pretty close. Sometimes, when it’s time to shoot, we’re passing, and when it’s time to pass, we’re shooting. We’re just a little bit off.’’

Talk on the street
The reaction to Rome’s suspension in Vancouver was respectful. “He’s lucky he’s still playing,’’ said Chris Strebly, 40, of Vancouver. “He’s lucky he’s still in the game. He’ll be back next year to play. And Horton, he may or may not be back, who knows? To take a hit like that and know you can pull up or pull down or pull away. There’s no head shots in my hockey. It’s a little embarrassing to walk around with a Canucks jersey on. But I’m here to win the Cup.’’ Jeff Choung, 30, of Richmond, British Columbia, said, “I thought the suspension was a bit harsh. Maybe a game or two would have been sufficient.’’ Mark Rolfe, 48, of Toronto said, “I think it sends a good message. But as long as it’s fair both ways. You want to play hockey, you don’t want to take heads off.’’

Amalie Benjamin contributed to this report from Vancouver, British Columbia; Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at

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