Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo has assumed the role his teammate, Alex Burrows, held the first time the Stanley Cup Final arrived in Boston.
Public enemy No. 1.
When the series returns for Game 6 Monday night, Luongo will be the Canucks player whose mouth has intensified the rivalry and the one fans will ride throughout the game.
Luongo took a shot at Bruins goalie Tim Thomas after Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final last night when he was asked about the game-winning goal, which Maxim Lapierre bounced off Thomas’s back and over the goal line in the third period for a 1-0 win.
After arriving home today, the Bruins generally dismissed the comments and stood by their guy.
Boston coach Claude Julien returned fire, though.
“Let’s put it this way, I don’t think Timmy is going to make much of that comment. I think you guys are making more out of it than Timmy will,” Julien said to reporters at TD Garden this afternoon after the Bruins flew home from Vancouver. “Either way, his stats, you know, 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 that.”
Luongo actually fanned the flames a bit today when he tried to clarify his remarks.
“I said he might make some saves that I don’t. I was just saying, on that particular play, I would have played it different. That’s the difference between me and him,” Luongo said prior to leaving Vancouver today. “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.”
Last night in his postgame press conference, Luongo took the first shot when asked about the difficulty of stopping Maxim Lapierre’s goal.
“It’s not hard if you’re playing in the paint,” Luongo said. “It’s an easy save for me, but if you’re wandering out and aggressive like he does, that’s going to happen. He might make some saves that I won’t, but in a case like that, we want to take advantage of a bounce like that and make sure we’re in a good position to bury those.”
Thomas didn’t speak to the media today, but his teammates did. Here’s what they said:
Andrew Ference: “Things that people say, that people do if they’re on the other team, it’s not really any of our concern.”
Chris Kelly: “To be honest, I only find out those things by you guys. I tend not to bother with those things, the mind games or whatever you want to call them. Right now, at this point in the year, our job is to play hockey, and do it to the best of our ability; i think you need to put the other stuff aside and just focus on the task at hand.
“They’re going to say what they want. All we know is that Timmy’s been unbelievable for us. We wouldn’t be where we are without Timmy, and that’s all that really matters is what we think in this locker room.”
Zdeno Chara, on whether Luongo’s comments “crossed the line”: “I don’t know, ask him, or ask Timmy. I wouldn’t make comments like that, but that’s me, and you’d have to talk to Roberto.”
Bruins fans saw Burrows as the villain in Game 3 after he bit Bruins center Patrice Bergeron in Game 1 in Vancouver. When he arrived in Boston, he was jeered with signs and shouts alike.
Story includes reporting by Joe Sullivan and Michael Whitmer of the Globe and material from an Associated Press report.