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.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.