June 11, 2011

Bruins know they let Luongo cruise to shutout

by Jesse Connolly

Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo hardly dealt with any traffic from the Bruins in Vancouver's 1-0 win in Game 5. (Getty)

Strictly looking at the box score, one might walk away thinking that Roberto Luongo bounced back in stellar fashion after two of his worst outings of the year.

After allowing eight goals in Game 3, only to follow it up by getting beat four times before pulled in Game 4, it was assumed that the Canucks netminder would be a short leash in Game 5. He responded with a 31-save shutout but, truth be told, it couldn't have been much easier. In fact, it was a complete cakewalk.

The Bruins did little to test Luongo throughout the entire tilt and likely could've counted their number of quality scoring chances in the game on one hand.

"We had a few opportunities and he made some big saves," winger Michael Ryder said. "We knew he was going to bounce back and maybe we need to get a little more traffic and battle harder in front of the net. Overall we played okay, but we didn't play the best that we could have."

So what was it that went so right back in Boston that complete vanished when the Bruins returned to Vancouver, where they have no scored just two goals in nine-plus periods of hockey?

"When you don't score any goals, obviously that's the first thing you have to look at," Greg Campbell said. "The reason we scored goals in Games 3 and 4 was because we were hungry around the net and gave him some trouble. I think we need to be a little bit better in that area."

Campbell noted how the Canucks reworked their approach to thwarting the Black and Gold, but that was something both he and his teammates should've been able to recognize and overcome.

"They made a few adjustments," he said. "They tried to tighten up in the neutral zone and give us less time. I don't think it's something we can't make adjustments to. We were prepared for that going into the game, that they could change a few things. The responsibility is on our forwards to make those adjustments and we didn't do it quite as well as we wanted to."

The Bruins will also lament the fact that they went on the man advantage three times in the first 15 minutes of Game 5, during which they not only failed to score but hardly managed to ever get set up in the offensive zone.

"We had those power plays early in the game and we had some pretty good opportunities, but we didn't capitalize," Ryder said. "I think we didn't get as much momentum as we needed. We didn't establish our forecheck the way we needed and that's one of our strengths."

And now because of all of those shortcomings in their wildly disappointing return to Vancouver, the Bruins must hope and pray that the home magic they had in the previous two tilts can be recaptured on TD Garden on Monday night, as the Canucks will come into town with a 3-2 lead in the series and a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup.

"It's pretty much do-or-die now," said Ryder. "If we want a Game 7 and a chance to win, we have to win at home. It's a matter of us going out there and giving it all we've got. We had success at home and we have to do the same thing. In Game 7, you never know what could happen."

While there's no guarantee that the Bruins' string of sub-par performances in Vancouver will continue if they force a Game 7 there, they now know it's a foregone conclusion that making things easy on Luongo again in Game 6 will kill any chance of having such an opportunity.