Roberto Luongo pleased with playoffs performance

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Jason
Botchford has a defiant article up today
for The Province, slamming
those who chose to rip apart Roberto Luongo after yet another
disappointing postseason. While there are many parts of his article I
don’t necessarily agree with, there is one thing I can understand his
point about: there’s been so much ripping on Luongo the past few days
there’s nothing left to take apart.

The buzzards have come and
gone and there is hardly anything left. Yet Luongo will keep on doing
what he loves, being one of the most maddeningly inconsistent
goaltenders in the NHL, and claiming that being the team’s captain is in
no way a hindrance.

Before I get to Botchford’s article, here’s
what Luongo had to say about his performance:

“Honestly, I felt good in the playoffs,” he said.

“I felt
energized. I felt sharp. I felt aggressive. I battled a lot because of
the traffic and the bumping. I adjusted certain things about my game to
try and deal with it. I did a pretty good job. There was one game in
there, I think it was Game 3, where they had a lot of rebounds and
jamming. But the games in Chicago, I fought hard to see the puck.”

Listen, Luongo was far from the only problem on the
Canucks in the second round. That being said, he was far from the
miracle worker in net that most teams need as you get deeper in the
playoffs. He wasn’t horrible, but he was far from the captain of the
team that elevates his play to the level that inspires the rest of his
team to play harder and stronger, overcoming adversity in the face of
elimination.

Of course, if Sami Salo playing with one a half
testicles isn’t inspiring enough for the team, I don’t know what Luongo
could have done.

I digress. I’m not here to preach on how Roberto
Luongo shouldn’t be captain (he shouldn’t) or how he wasn’t the great
goaltender the Canucks needed him to be (he wasn’t). What I am saying is
that there is something inherently wrong with the emotional makeup of
this team, something we’ve seen the past two seasons and something
that’s led to their disappointingly early exits.

Mr. Botchford
says this about those who claim Luongo shouldn’t be captain:

He’s
already been ripped for being an overrated, average Pez dispenser.
What’s left? Oh right, his captaincy. The cupboards must be bare for
people to be this worked up over that. Especially, considering he’s the
first Vancouver captain in 16 years to lead the Canucks to the second
round in consecutive seasons.

Well, I counter by
saying that while Luongo has “led” the Canucks to the second round in
two straight seasons, they’ve completely fallen on their faces once they
got there. Not because they were outclassed or outplayed, but because
they lacked the emotional fortitude to overcome the adversity they faced
once they got there.

Is that Luongo’s fault? Not directly, but a
hockey team generally takes on the persona of it’s captain. I don’t
claim to know or understand the inner workings of a NHL locker room, but
you have to think that having your team captain stationed 100 feet away
from your bench for 98% of the game is not exactly how you need your
team taking on the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference
semifinals.

Especially when said captain isn’t exactly playing at
the top of his game, no matter what he might say.

If the Vancouver
Canucks hope to build on this season and move deeper in the playoffs,
things will have to change. The Sedins aren’t getting any younger and
the team is on the verge of going into a bit of a “youth movement
phase”. They have Roberto Luongo tied up the next 12 seasons, so he’s
not going anywhere. Is it a good idea to give the captaincy to someone
else? Is it really that big of a deal for this team, when it seems there
might be other issues to focus on?

Perhaps, but having the leader
of the team outwardly appear to emotional and inconsistent, all at the
wrong times, isn’t exactly a model for success.

In his defense, Luongo did say that he’ll be quieter next season and not take questions on the mornings of games. That he admits these were a bit of a distraction speaks to the inherent issues when you have your goaltender become the captain.

Ok, so maybe this
was about Roberto Luongo and the invisible “C” on his chest.

The Predators are on a roll

DENVER, CO - MARCH 05:  Filip Forsberg #9 of the Nashville Predators awaits a face off against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on March 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Predators defeated the Avalanche 5-2.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Filip Forsberg scored twice, including the tiebreaking goal in the third, and the Nashville Predators rallied from two goals down to beat the Minnesota Wild 4-2 Sunday night.

Forsberg took a pretty feed from Ryan Ellis and one-timed it from the left circle past Darcy Kuemper with 6:36 left to put Nashville up 3-2.

It was Kuemper’s first-career loss in five starts against the Predators, who have won six of seven and wrapped up a five-game road trip with four wins.

Ryan Johansen added an empty netter for Nashville, and James Neal also had a goal. Pekka Rinne stopped 21 shots for Nashville.

Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville scored for the Wild. Kuemper, starting in place of regular starter Devan Dubnyk, had 28 saves as Minnesota fell into a first-place tie with Chicago atop the Western Conference.

Forsberg tied it at 2:20 of the third on a backhander past Kuemper’s stick side.

Minnesota started fast, pulling ahead 2-0 just 7:31 into the game. Granlund scored his 11th just over two minutes in. Pominville added his seventh five minutes later.

But seven games in 10 days appeared to catch up with the Wild in the second as Nashville outshot Minnesota 10-4 in the period and controlled the puck effectively.

Neal pulled the Predators to 2-1 with his team-leading 16th goal of the season 2:25 into the period.

Late letdown costs Canucks versus their old rivals from Chicago

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 22: Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrtaes a third period goal against the Vancouver Canucks at the United Center on January 22, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Canucks 4-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Sure, the Vancouver Canucks clawed back against an old rival, the Chicago Blackhawks, on Sunday.

But, thanks to a late letdown in regulation, they missed out on a great opportunity to move into a playoff position.

Down a pair of goals in the third period, the Canucks managed to come back in hostile territory. It started with a Troy Stecher power play goal. Bo Horvat, in the lineup two days after getting hit in the back of the head with a slap shot, tied it up for Vancouver just 46 seconds later.

But the chance for at least a single point slipped at the worst possible time, as Jonathan Toews scored with 1:18 left in regulation and then set up an empty net goal from Marian Hossa just a few seconds later to secure the 4-2 win.

The Canucks remain stuck at five wins — just five wins — on the road. They have the 29th-ranked road record in the entire NHL. Only the Arizona Coyotes have been worse away from home ice. So, that’s a problem that needs to be fixed down the stretch.

Vancouver had a chance to move into a wild card spot. Instead, they let the Blackhawks regain momentum as the period went on, and as a result, they remain on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture for right now.

Corey Crawford earned his 200th career win, making 26 saves. That’s a milestone night for him. For Toews, that’s his most productive night of the season, as he factored into all four Chicago goals, which, of course, included the winner.

This has been a difficult year for Toews. He’s been injured. His point production has been down.

Video: Giroux bumps scoring slump to give Flyers the OT win

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The Philadelphia Flyers needed a win.

So overtime against the New York Islanders seemed like a perfect time for captain Claude Giroux to bust his scoring slump.

Without a goal in his last 12 games, or since Dec. 21 before the holiday break, Giroux finished the Flyers comeback with an overtime goal to give Philly a 3-2 victory on Sunday. Jakub Voracek did great work along the boards to force a turnover from John Tavares, and Shayne Gostisbehere followed up his chance with a quick pass to a wide-open Giroux at the top of the crease.

That comeback win — Philly trailed by two goals early in the second period — bumps the Flyers back into a wild card spot.

Steve Mason had a big game in net for Philly, with 36 saves, while the Flyers fired 47 shots on goal toward Thomas Greiss, although it’s a difficult task trying to re-set and stop Giroux — an accomplished scorer in the NHL — on the doorstep.

Goals, goals and more goals! Blue Jackets outlast Senators for overtime win

COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 19:  Mike Condon #1 of the Ottawa Senators stops a shot from Cam Atkinson #13 of the Columbus Blue Jackets as Mike Hoffman #68 of the Ottawa Senators skates back on defense during the third period on January 19, 2017 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Ottawa defeated Columbus 2-0. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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Plenty of goals. A little three-on-three overtime. Seemed like an enjoyable afternoon of hockey between the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Well, maybe the goalies, Mike Condon and Joonas Korpisalo, didn’t enjoy it as much.

The Blue Jackets prevailed for a 7-6 overtime win, with Cam Atkinson scoring just 1:09 into the extra period. That’s his 23rd goal of the season. Only two players — Jeff Carter (24) and Sidney Crosby (28) — have scored more goals than Atkinson this season.

With the win, and the Capitals sitting idle today, the Blue Jackets move back into a tie with Washington at 68 points in the fight for first place in the Metropolitan Division.

There were some anxious moments for Columbus.

Rookie defenseman Zach Werenski was hurt blocking a shot in the third period. He briefly left the game, unable to put any pressure on his right leg as he was helped off.

The good news: He only missed a few minutes, returning late in regulation and for the overtime as well, which is important for the Blue Jackets.

Despite his rookie status, and being a 19-year-old blue liner, Werenski is having an impressive season with six goals and 26 points in 45 games before Sunday.

“The thing that has impressed me the most about him is he’s a bit unflappable,” coach John Tortorella said earlier this season.

“He’s made a couple of huge mistakes in a game and he comes to the bench, shakes it off and then goes out and makes a great play. For a 19-year-old playing that position and the amount of time he’s getting in key situations with this organization, it’s pretty impressive.”