Monday, June 6, 2011

LUONGO + NO YANKING = LOSE-ONGO



The Boston Bruins crushed the Vancouver Canucks Monday night 8-1. It was as if the Canucks were summertime mosquitoes around Lake Simcoe and the buzzing B's were truck windshields.

Most of the bug splat could be found in the crease of Roberto Luongo, who looked mentally and physically spent near the end of the second period, a 20-minute torture session in which Luongo let in 4 goals on 14 shots. Through his five-hole, over his fish-flopping body, through his body like he was a ghost. Sure, Luongo was shaky. But his defensemen were human turnstiles and left him hanging with one after another unwanted visitors to Club Roberto.

So why didn't Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault give Luongo a mercy hook and let backup Cory Schneider take the rest of the punches? I mean, Coach V clearly had no trouble doing that in the Chicago series when he yanked Luongo in games 4 and 5. And everyone knows how that series ended up: Vancouver won in 7.

Maybe Vigneault feared it would show weakness and the B's would smell British Columbia blood. Maybe he thought it would hurt Luongo's confidence. Maybe he just didn't think Luongo deserved to be replaced.

Whatever the Canucks coach was thinking it was the wrong strategy. A shell-shocked Luongo was so rattled by the middle of the third that even the most fervent Luongo-haters had to feel for the guy. By the time the last two goals zipped by him with all the ease of bullet through a cotton vest, you could see Luongo eyeing the bench, as if he was looking for the mercy hook to save him. But it never came.

If he bounces back, all is forgiven. But if Luongo's confidence was incurably wounded in the defeat, then the Bruins will be drinking from the Cup. And coach Vigneault will have a long summer to swat mosquitoes by the lake.