Luongo on possibility of playing in Toronto: “It’s something I can handle”

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Where will Roberto Luongo be traded? What will Roberto Luongo be traded for? Wait…will Roberto Luongo even be traded?

The questions are plentiful; the answers at this point, not so much.

Such is the level of interest among Maple Leafs fans that the Toronto Sun sent a reporter to Coral Springs, Florida, where Luongo was practicing today (in a Canucks jersey) with goalie coach Francois Allaire.

The idea that Luongo would be scared to go to a hockey-mad market like Toronto has always seemed laughable to us. The 33-year-old has started the two highest-pressure games that exist – he won the gold-medal game for Canada in 2010; he lost Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals for Vancouver. Call him a choker all you want — he’s had nightmare outings — but most goalies don’t even get the opportunity to choke in big games because they’re not good enough to get to them.

Meanwhile, in Toronto, Leafs coach Randy Carlyle was asked about his current net-minding tandem of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens.

“We have NHL caliber goaltending,” said Carlyle, echoing GM Brian Burke’s past statements on the issue.

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, Canucks GM Mike Gillis was asked Sunday about his Luongo conundrum.

Predictably, Gillis wasn’t willing to say much: “Until (the CBA) gets ratified we are not talking trade with any other teams. We’re not going to do anything until we see a collective agreement that’s ratified, that’s approved by the players and ratified by the owners. At that point, we’ll begin to move forward on a variety of different fronts we’ve been thinking about.”

Gillis has said in the past that he’s more than willing to keep Luongo and have him share the goaltending load with Cory Schneider. Which would be…interesting.

“I’m open to a lot of ideas right now,” Luongo said. “I don’t want to corner myself, especially since I might have to start the season in Vancouver or play the whole season there. Who knows.”

He added: ““I’m prepared right now to go up to Vancouver and start training camp. Unless Mike tells me otherwise, I’m ready to go, I’m excited. I miss being around the guys.”

As for other possible destinations:

—- Florida. Believed to be Luongo’s first choice for family reasons. The Canucks have reportedly expressed interest in Panthers prospect Nick Bjugstad. This makes sense, as Bjugstad is a very good prospect. Probably too good for the Panthers to give up.

—- Columbus. In case you missed it, the Blue Jackets struggled between the pipes last season. But would Luongo waive his no-trade clause to go to Columbus? (No offense to Columbus.)

—- Chicago. Can you imagine? Whatever Blackhawks fans may think of it, Luongo gives their team a better chance to win than Corey Crawford.

—- Edmonton. Even if the Oilers were interested, would Vancouver management consider trading Luongo to a division rival? Especially a division rival that’s on its way to becoming an elite team.

Holtby ‘wasn’t as sharp as he can be,’ says Trotz

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Presidents’ Trophy winners once again in the regular season, the Capitals once again face an uphill climb if they are to advance beyond the rival Penguins and the second round of the playoffs.

What began with a strong first period for the Capitals in Game 2, albeit without a reward on the score board, faded into a frustrating 6-2 rout, as the Penguins took a commanding 2-0 series lead as it shifts back to Pittsburgh for a pivotal Game 3 on Monday.

Braden Holtby was pulled after the second period. He gave up three goals on 14 shots, while his opponent at the other end, Marc-Andre Fleury was brilliant with 34 saves.

“He’ll tell you that he can be better. He’s a straight up guy and he will be. I was just trying to change the mojo,” said Capitals coach Barry Trotz of his decision to sit Holtby.

“I thought some of the goals, he wasn’t as sharp as he can be for us. He’s a game-changer for us. So when he didn’t change the game, I just looked to change the mojo a little bit there. That’s all. Braden’s our backbone. He has been all year. We’ve got to find some goals for him, too. We can’t just put it on Braden Holtby.”

Now in a deep but not insurmountable hole against the defending Stanley Cup champs, the Capitals reportedly held a players’ only meeting following this latest defeat.

After failing to open the scoring in an otherwise dominant first period, Washington surrendered three goals in the second, as the Penguins broke it wide open with their transition game, led by two great plays from Sidney Crosby.

“We can’t get frustrated. I think that would be our biggest mistake is to get frustrated right now,” said T.J. Oshie, before expanding on the meeting between the players.

“It was things that people need to say and things that some people need to hear. We were very together with what we said. I don’t need to go into details. Sometimes in our game … you need to hear from your teammates more than your coach. And tonight was one of those nights.

“It was the players in here and what was said is what needed to be said.”

We’ll find out Monday if what was said actually has any impact on the ice.

Penguins rout Capitals to take commanding series lead

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The Washington Capitals are in trouble. Against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Again.

Despite a dominant first period, at least in terms of shots on Marc-Andre Fleury and puck possession, the Capitals saw this game go sideways in a hurry during the second period, on the way to a 6-2 loss to the Penguins in Game 2.

Washington is now in quite a hole, trailing its nemesis 2-0 in this second-round series.

Last year, Matt Murray stymied the Capitals. Though it’s only been two games this year, Fleury has stepped up in the absence of the injured Murray and given the Penguins solid goaltending and frustrated a dangerous Capitals lineup.

After withstanding the storm of pressure from the Capitals in the first period, the Penguins broke this game open with a trio of second-period goals. It started with a shorthanded goal from Matt Cullen, and later continued with a beautiful goal from Phil Kessel and then Jake Guentzel‘s sixth goal of these playoffs.

That led Barry Trotz to take Braden Holtby out of the game, after he gave up three goals on 14 shots, putting in Phillip Grubauer to begin the third period. The Penguins continued the onslaught.

For the Penguins, there are some injury concerns to keep an eye on.

Patric Hornqvist left the game in the first period after blocking a shot around his foot or ankle. He didn’t return. Ron Hainsey had to go to the locker room late in the third period after taking an Alex Ovechkin shot up around the head.

Game 3 goes Monday in Pittsburgh.

‘I wasn’t good enough,’ says Lundqvist after double OT loss to Senators

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The task wasn’t impossible, but certainly daunting.

The Ottawa Senators needed five goals on Henrik Lundqvist just to send Game 2 into overtime.

The Rangers goalie had been spectacular for most of this post-season entering Saturday’s contest, but the Senators, led by a sensational four-goal performance from Jean-Gabriel Pageau, found a way to break through for a 6-5 double overtime win to take a 2-0 series lead against New York.

They did so on just 34 shots through almost 83 minutes against Lundqvist.

“I wasn’t good enough,” said Lundqvist, per the New York Daily News. “Coming up with the extra save there in the end, that’s my job. Even though it’s tough plays on deflections, I’ve got to find a way.”

On three occasions, the Rangers held a two-goal lead. That includes with under five minutes remaining in regulation. They even had a pair of shorthanded goals. But they couldn’t hang on, as Pageau scored twice in the final 3:19 of regulation to record his hat trick.

That set the stage for the eventual winner, as he beat Lundqvist over the left shoulder with a shot from his off-wing on a two-on-one rush.

With the Senators in control, the series returns to New York for Game 3 on Tuesday and Game 4 on Thursday.

“We played well enough to win this game, there’s no question about it,” said Lundqvist. “It’s really tough to lose this one. Clearly they’ve gotten the bounces here in the first two games.”

Capitals’ Holtby begins third period on the bench, Grubauer takes over in net

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Braden Holtby began the third period of Saturday’s Game 2 on the bench, giving way to Philipp Grubauer.

The Washington Capitals fell behind the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 after two periods, with Holtby allowing three goals on just 14 shots. It will be interesting to hear the reason for this decision from coach Barry Trotz following the game.

The Capitals had dominated on the shot clock, but gave up a pair of quick goals to fall further behind Pittsburgh in this game, while trailing in the series 1-0.

Phil Kessel — on a great play from Sidney Crosby — and Jake Guentzel scored 3:10 apart to give Pittsburgh a two-goal lead.