BOSTON – After making another long trip back across the continent, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien was intent on travelling the high road.
But he couldn’t resist lobbing a shot back at Roberto Luongo when asked multiple times about the words the Vancouver Canucks goalie had about Tim Thomas following Game 5 in the Stanley Cup final.
“Let’s put it this way, I don’t think Timmy is going to make much of the comment,” Julien said Saturday at TD Garden. “I think you guys are making more of it than Timmy will. Either way, his stats are proof itself. He’s given up six goals in five games. The guy that made the comment, I’m not quite sure how many he let in.
“I think you guys have a good idea, so I don’t think he’s going to lose sleep over it.”
Luongo has allowed 14 goals in the series compared to the six by Thomas, but suggested after Friday’s 1-0 win that he would have stopped the only shot that beat his counterpart.
Prior to boarding a plane bound for Boston on Saturday morning, the Canucks goaltender didn’t back down from his statement.
“I said also he might make some saves that I don’t,” said Luongo. “I was just saying, on that particular play, I would have played it different. That’s the difference between me and him.
“I have been pumping his tires ever since the series started. I haven’t heard one nice thing he had to say about me. That’s the way it is.”
The series has featured plenty of bad blood—not to mention incidents of diving, taunting and even biting.
That’s one of the main reasons Julien was reluctant to address Luongo’s comments about Thomas. With the Bruins trailing 3-2 heading into a must-win Game 6 on Monday, he’s got bigger concerns than engaging in a war of words through the media.
“To be honest with you, this series has been a lot about that,” said Julien. “I know you guys are probably loving it, but we’re down to the wire here and have to focus on our game and what it means a lot more than what is being said. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. Anybody can say what they want.
“Right now my focus is on getting this team back in this series.”
The Bruins rarely seem to do things the easy way. They’ll be facing elimination for the third time this spring and are hoping to force their third Game 7 of these playoffs.
The home team has won every game so far in the series, but there’s no bigger home game than the one Boston will face on Monday.
“It’s about going out and playing the game and having a solid head on your shoulders to do it the right way,” said defenceman Andrew Ference. “It’s not about having any magic potion or anything like that. It’s just about doing the job that you have been practising the whole year to do.”
Boston and Vancouver criss-crossed the continent twice in 72 hours to play Game 5 and are currently playing the Stanley Cup final with the largest amount of travel in modern history. On Saturday, the Bruins arrived home from the 5,000-kilometre trip to rain and bleak headlines about their current situation.
“Zero Hour,” blared the Boston Herald sports section.
One positive for the Bruins is that they played their best hockey in front of the rocking home crowd at TD Garden, outscoring Vancouver 12-1 in Games 3 and 4. Julien is looking for the team to produce the same kind of emotional all-out performance at home again.
“Right now the smaller picture is the most important thing and that’s to make sure that we create a Game 7 by playing extremely well here in our own building and to look any further than that would be a big mistake on our part,” said Julien.
The Stanley Cup will be in the building—all polished and ready for presentation. The Bruins intend to block out any thoughts of the trophy being so close.
“At this point, you just don’t think about it,” said forward Brad Marchand. “We’re in a position where we can’t win it next game anyways. We have to make sure we don’t worry about that.”
They’re also looking to ignore anything said from the other side.
“The series is 3-2 so we’re going to have to focus on Game 6 and having success back at here at home,” said forward Shawn Thornton. “The rest of the numbers and all of the other stuff goes right out the window. It’s all about wins and losses this time of year.”