2011 Stanley Cup Finals: The Redemption of Roberto Luongo

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2011 Stanley Cup Finals: The Redemption of Roberto Luongo
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

What does Roberto Luongo have to do to earn some respect? 

Win an Olympic gold medal on home ice? Nope, that didn't work.

Well, winning a Stanley Cup would be a start. (But it might not be enough, just ask Chris Osgood.)

A week ago, after backstopping his Canucks to a 2-0 series lead, and with a personal achievement of leading the NHL in playoff shutouts, Luongo headed off to Boston.

Two disastrous games later, Luongo was being made into the scapegoat for the entire team.

I've seen this movie before.

Game 7 of the 2003 playoffs, and the Canucks blow a 3-1 series lead to lose to the Minnesota Wild in seven games. 

Dan Cloutier gets the blame and becomes the scapegoat, ignoring the other glaring problems with that Canucks team, namely that they couldn't score, so it didn't matter how many saves Cloutier made, they weren't going to win. 

I remember after the Game 7 loss, Canucks fans were burning Cloutier jerseys in the streets. 

Conveniently for some players (Todd Bertuzzi, Markus Naslund and Ed Jovanovksi specifically), the lack of any kind of clutch scoring was ignored. 

Rich Lam/Getty Images

Fast forward eight years, and its a replay of the same movie.

Yes, Luongo gave up 12 goals over the two games in Boston. 

But the team as a whole didn't show up to play after the first period of Game 3. 

For the last five periods in Boston, the Canucks would have lost to an AHL team, no matter who was in goal.

Who got all the blame though? Luongo. 

Not the skaters, not the team as a whole. 

Just the goalie.

Clearly it was Luongo's fault that the Canucks couldn't win a faceoff and were out shot and out hit by the Bruins. I think he had something to do with firing up the Bruins with the Nathan Horton injury too.

It really is a thankless position.

People were asking if the Bruins were in his head, or calling for Cory Schneider to start. The best case scenario most people would allow was Luongo getting the start, but with a short leash to be pulled if he let in a bad goal.

With all that in mind, what did Luongo do? He went for a walk.

What does Loungo have to do to get some respect?

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As he did prior to the dramatic Game 7 game against the Chicago Blackhawks six weeks ago, Luongo donned his headphones and went for a walk around the seawall of Vancouver's famous landmark, Stanley Park.

Stanley Park. Stanley Cup. Coincidence?

Luongo on his walk around the seawall: "I try to block everything else out. Sometimes it's hard to do in a city like this. You can't let those things affect you because then they will affect your game."

So after mentally focusing himself with that walk, Luongo came out and stoned the Bruins, recording a shutout. 

His coach and teammates at least had faith in Luongo:

"Everybody in our dressing room and around our organization knows Roberto's character and his competitiveness and how he prepares himself," said Alain Vigneault after the game. "He went out tonight and he played a great game for us."

Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa also confirmed that the team had faith in Luongo to rebound, just like they had faith in the rest of the team to rebound as well.

Luongo now has four shutouts in the playoffs to lead the NHL, and two of those shutouts have come in 1-0 Vancouver wins in the Stanley Cup Finals. 

Consider this. His team, with their vaunted offence, has scored a measly six goals in five games during the Stanley Cup Finals. 

Yet they have won three of those five games.

And Luongo still isn't getting any respect, as the media consensus is that Tim Thomas is the best goalie in the finals.

Maybe if he wins the Stanley Cup he might get some respect. 

Maybe.

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