Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks - Game Seven

Deflated tires: Roberto Luongo has second thoughts on Tim Thomas Stanley Cup comments

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While most of us would switch places with a high-level professional athlete like Roberto Luongo in a heartbeat, it’s easy to ignore the drawbacks that come with that job. There are a lot of challenges – from physical pain to the pressure to win in a sport with a small margin of error – but one underrated task comes when players must address the media just moments after they win or lose.

Under normal circumstances, players are prepared to answer reporters’ questions with any number of cliches that pump up their opponents and how hard everyone worked. That being said, the beauty of post-game press conferences is that every now and then, a player lets his guard down and actually says something interesting (and maybe even inflammatory).

One of those moments came after the Vancouver Canucks beat the Boston Bruins 1-0 in Game 5 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, when Roberto Luongo critiqued Tim Thomas after the unorthodox goalie’s aggressiveness backfired for the game’s only goal. Luongo said he would have made the save on Maxim Lapierre’s goal (which happened after Kevin Bieksa bounced the puck off the boards on purpose to take advantage of Thomas’ aggressiveness) and also griped that Thomas hadn’t flattered Luongo during the series. Thomas responded by joking that it wasn’t his job to pump Luongo’s tires.

Those comments looked bad enough after that Game 5 win, but it seemed like a significant foot-in-mouth moment in retrospect. There was a stark contrast in the two goalies’ play in the last two games of the championship series; Thomas allowed two goals in Boston’s two wins while Luongo was pulled from Game 6 and allowed three goals in Vancouver’s Game 7 loss.

This must be a painful off-season for the oh-so-close Canucks, but Luongo received the greatest amount of blame for Vancouver’s crushing defeat. Canucks Army provides a translated interview that covers the goalie’s summer, including his regrets about making those comments about Thomas.

“I thought of the finals earlier in the summer, but now I think it’s a part of the past.” said Luongo. “I have good memories of last year, it was a very good season. But it sure hurts a little. I especially remember the last game in Vancouver. It’s hard to relive the final seconds of the seventh game in the Stanley Cup finals.”

“Fortunately, I spend my summers in Florida and it’s pretty quiet there,” said the 32 year old goaltender in consolation.

(snip)

Does Luongo regret the statement [about Thomas]?

“Yeah, for sure. If I could do it again, I wouldn’t say it. I didn’t want to create the buzz that it did. After the fifth game, I had never been so emotional and I got carried away.”

Luongo received a lot of abuse for his statements and struggles during that seven-game series, with much of the wounds being self-inflicted. Even if he’s had his low moments, Luongo had a great regular season and his fair share of strong playoff performances. If he can keep the media and fan criticisms from getting to him, he has a great chance for another standout season in 2011-12.

Luongo might want to be a little more careful about what he says from now on, though.

Ducks lock up 2016 first-rounder Max Jones

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Max Jones poses for a portrait after being selected 24th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
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The Anaheim Ducks handed their 2016 first-round draft pick Max Jones an entry-level contract on Friday.

Anaheim selected Jones 24th overall. It looks like he’s getting a pretty typical rookie deal, according to reporters including NHL.com’s Curtis Zupke.

In PHT’s “Get to Know a Draft Pick” series, THN’s Ryan Kennedy described Jones as “a power forward who can make you look silly with his offensive moves or simply plow you through the boards.”

Jones was one of three London Knights players who went in the first round in 2016, following Olli Juolevi (fifth overall) and Matthew Tkachuk (sixth overall). He certainly seemed to enjoy the team’s Memorial Cup victory:

You never really know for certain, but one would imagine that Jones may take a season or two to make it to the NHL level with the Ducks. From the sound of things, he’s in the sort of power forward mold that the team’s had a lot of success with.

With Lehner injured, Enroth will be in Sweden’s goalie mix at World Cup

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 04: Jhonas Enroth #1 of the Buffalo Sabres and Robin Lehner #40 of the Ottawa Senators warm up to play at First Niagara Center on October 4, 2013 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) Sweden has selected Jhonas Enroth to replace injured goaltender Robin Lehner on its World Cup of Hockey roster.

Lehner was bothered by an ankle injury last season while playing for the Buffalo Sabres. Sweden coach Rikard Gronborg said Lehner had not recovered 100 percent.

Enroth, who signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, joins Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Jacob Markstrom of the Vancouver Canucks as the goalies on Sweden’s roster.

The 28-year-old has a 2.80 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 147 career NHL games. Enroth was on the Swedish team that earned a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, though he never appeared in a game.

Enroth started for Sweden at the 2015 world hockey championship.

The World Cup begins Sept. 17 in Toronto.

Brandon Pirri makes Rangers’ offense so deep, a trade may be needed

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 10:  Brandon Pirri #73 of the Florida Panthers skates with the puck during a game against the Washington Capitals at BB&T Center on December 10, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Want to make your brain hurt a little? Try to narrow down the New York Rangers’ forward group to a mere 12 after the whip-smart signing of Brandon Pirri became official.

To start, you have the obvious guys: Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, J.T. Miller, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes. Then you add new arrivals in Pirri, Jimmy Vesey, Nathan Gerbe, Michael Grabner and Josh Jooris.

The list above includes 12 mostly-viable options and we haven’t even discussed the likes of Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast and fringe types such as Tanner Glass.

Throw in prospects such as Pavel Buchnevich and Marek Hrivik and … well, it sure becomes such a strength that things feel pretty crowded after some reflection.

Blueshirt Banter makes a strong case that something has to give; they believe that Pirri’s signing points to a possible trade. Maybe even a significant, multi-part one:

And this is where things get interesting. The Rangers are still floating around the Kevin Shattenkirk rumors, and the persistent Rick Nash speculation isn’t going anywhere, either.

It’s something that Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman apparently pointed to.

Well, isn’t that interesting.

General Fanager puts the Rangers’ jam-packed roster about $1.4 million under the salary cap ceiling as of this moment.

With that in mind, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton probably isn’t in a desperate situation to move someone – whether it be a big name such as Nash or not – but New York might amass enough forward pieces to jar a quality defenseman loose

Even as is, the team sure looks more formidable now than it did entering the off-season. Forward depth was one of the strengths of the group that made it to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final (recall useful supporting cast members including Benoit Pouliot), so maybe Alain Vigneault would really excel with another deep group?

Vacation-mode is just about over, so perhaps the Rangers have something interesting up their sleeves? It’s a reasonable question to ask.

Poll: Where will the Canadiens finish in the East this year?

MONTREAL, QC - APRIL 17:  Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens watches play during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals  of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre on April 17, 2015 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Canadiens defeated the Senators 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
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Expectations were high for the Montreal Canadiens going into last season.

In the first month of the 2015-16 season, it seemed like the high expectations were justified, as the Canadiens jumped out to a 9-0-0 start.

They continued their strong play through the month of November.

In November, the Canadiens lost both Carey Price (knee) and Brendan Gallagher (hand) to injury. The Price injury, in particular, really hurt the Canadiens.

Price was initially supposed to be out for 6-to-8 weeks, but he never ended up returning. Without him, the Canadiens just weren’t the same team.

“It’s been hard mentally,” Price said last April, per NHL.com. “This has been the most trying year of my career. I feel more tired now than I do when I play hockey,” Price said. “Watching, I don’t know how fans do it to be honest. It’s hard to sit and watch and not be able to do anything about it. It’s the hardest part about this process.

“I think I’ve learned a lot of things in the aspect of preparing myself for a long season. I’ve changed a few things like my diet plans and my preparation for practices. As you get older (Price turns 29 on Aug. 16), you have to do more things like that. And I think I can carry that into next year and it will be beneficial.”

Now, it sounds like Price is back to full health and that can only be a good thing for Montreal. With Price, it’ll be interesting to see if Montreal can find their winning ways.

Montreal also added Shea Weber and Andrew Shaw via trade. Both players figure to be important parts of the team in 2016-17.

How high do you expect the Canadiens to finish in the Eastern Conference standings? How do they stack up against the Panthers, Lightning, Red Wings, Bruins, Senators, Sabres and Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division?

Time to vote!