VANCOUVER – Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo admitted he could have been better.
But he wasn’t shouldering all the blame after Wednesday’s 4-0 loss that clinched the Stanley Cup for the Boston Bruins.
That would likely wait for sports talk radio in this city that lives and dies with the Canucks.
Luongo allowed three goals on 21 shots—the fourth was into an empty net—as he watched Tim Thomas at the other end collect the Conn Smythe trophy for playoff MVP with a 37-save effort.
Both are nominated for the Vezina trophy as the NHL’s best goalie.
“We’re all disappointed,” said Luongo who was pulled from two blowout losses in Boston after deciding to remain in an 8-1 disaster in Game 3 that got the Bruins back in the series.
“It’s a team game. We all want to be better. Myself? What can I say? We all want to be better. It’s a team game. We’re not going to point fingers at one individual.
“If we all would have stepped up a notch, starting with myself we’d have got the job done.”
Luongo, in the second year of a US$64 million, 12-year contract, was hot and cold during this post-season where his team twice needed one win to claim the Stanley Cup.
But he also gave way to backup Cory Schneider in 7-2 and 5-0 losses that allowed the Chicago Blackhawks to rebound from a 3-0 deficit in the opening round.
Then he matched Thomas with four shutouts in his 25 post-season starts, including a pair of 1-0 gems against the Bruins.
“We didn’t get the job done in Boston but, all in all, we lost,” said Luongo who prepared for games by walking the scenic Stanley Park seawall, wearing a hoodie and earphones.
“It’s as simple as that. You work all year to get here. That’s the bottom line. If you lose it’s going to be devastating. Two good teams played and one team got the win and it wasn’t us.”
Luongo became a magnet for criticism earlier in the series when Alex Burrows ended the second game 11 seconds into overtime with a wraparound goal.
Thomas was out of position and scrambling to get back in his net.
“It’s an easy save for me but if you’re wandering out and aggressive like (Thomas) that’s going to happen,” Luongo said, igniting a firestorm in the Boston media.
The Canucks netminder dived to the far post too late on Wednesday night to prevent a wraparound goal by Bruins rookie Brad Marchand.
This wasn’t the first time Luongo took defeat hard in the playoffs.
In 2009 he was in tears when the Chicago Blackhawks eliminated Vancouver in six games.
He came in for more criticism with another six-game loss to the Blackhawks in the second round last season.
This year things changed.
Luongo gave up captaincy of the Canucks and altered his style under coach Roland Melanson, standing deeper in his crease and improving footwork to get faster from post-to-post.
He stopped talking to the media on game days, led the league with 38 wins and shared the Jennings trophy with Schneider for allowing fewest goals against.
He eventually slayed the Chicago dragon this season, becoming the first Canuck goalie to shut out the Hawks in the playoffs and the second to blank an opponent to open a series.
Luongo saved Vancouver’s season in overtime of Game 7 against the Hawks when he got across his crease to foil Patrick Sharp.
He stoned Nashville for 121 minutes 11 seconds during that tense, low-scoring conference semifinal.
Henrik Sedin, who succeeded Luongo as captain, wasn’t having any criticism of his goalie.
“We’re a team that sticks together,”Sedin said.
“There’s a lot of things said in the media, by the media, by players, by coaches. We don’t read about it. We don’t care.
“I don’t care what anybody said in the papers. We couldn’t beat Thomas. That had nothing to do with Luongo. That’s me and (brother) Dan foremost. We couldn’t get it done.”
Daniel Sedin backed him up.
“Absolutely,”he said when asked if he had faith in his netminder.
“He got us to a seventh game. We wouldn’t be here if everyone didn’t contribute. That’s the way it is. We scored zero goals today. That’s absolutely not good enough.
“So if you want to blame guys, blame all the guys or blame us.”