Why Thomas and Price Are a Class Above Luongo

They are the netminders for teams with arguably the most heated rivalry in all of sport, Tim Thomas and Carey Price toil under the weighty expectations which accompany being the cornerstone of their team’s success. The environment is one which thrusts them onto center stage each time they step on the ice;  each save, miscue, and goal is examined under the white hot spotlight of Montreal and Boston fan bases who accept nothing but perfection from their goaltenders.  It would seem easy for for Thomas and Price to exhibit the same intense hatred and contempt often displayed by their rabid fans, yet both rise above the swirling madness which surrounds them on and off the ice, much the same way they remain composed under a barrage of shots during the most heated contests.  Thomas and Price display not only a healthy respect for one another’s work, but they went out of their way in the media to praise the play of the other in a series for the ages this year.  Heck, even in the “goalie fight” this season when they squared off, Price resisted the likely urge to destroy his feisty nemesis, and they parted ways sharing wry smiles. They get it. They fight for their team, they battle, they win, they lose, but above all they share a mutual respect for each other.  Perhaps there are no two players in the league who have more cause to get lost in the bitter rivalry which surround them, than Thomas and Price yet they manage to rise above it possess the mental toughness necessary to be successful in two of the toughest places in the league to play.

Enter Roberto Luongo. The man with an ego as fragile as fine china, and despite great skill is so uncomfortable in his own skin that often watching him is at once both puzzling and painful.  Luongo has refined technique  but the door to his “kitchen” is a swinging one.  He possesses the physical skills to be an elite goalie in the NHL, but his stunning lack of mental toughness often makes it challenging for him to earn respect for his physical abilities.  He plays goal for one of the most potent offensive teams in the league, an embarrassment of riches for a goalie with his talent and abilities.  Yet he struggles, often on the biggest of stages, he has nary the sustained pressures nor the challenges of Thomas and Price, yet inexplicably after righting his listing ship in the Stanley Cup Finals he chooses to take a shot across the bow of Thomas and his play after game 5.  Could he really be so completely devoid of self-confidence that despite his team being ahead in the series 3-2 he would chose to go out of his way to poke the bear that mauled him last week?

In this series, with his team UP two games to none, Luongo made 46 saves on 58 shots, surrendering 12 goals and being pulled.  With his team’s back against the wall in those same two games, Thomas made 78 saves on 79 shots.  In the series, Luongo has made 141 saves, on 155 shots, while Thomas has made 161 saves on 165 shots. When his team has needed him most, Thomas has stood tall, as he has all season and throughout these playoffs.  Thomas continues to be the Bruins’ most valuable player, and in the 3 games after losing their most consistent and viable scoring threat in Nathan Horton, all Thomas has done is allowed 2 goals on 104 shots.  Yet instead of celebrating his team’s strong skating and physical performance in the Canucks’ game 5 win Luongo elected to take a snipe at Thomas and his aggressive style, which has stymied the vaunted offensive juggernaut.

Thomas and Price go out of their way to praise the play of their teammates after winning performances, and shoulder blame in games where it would be easy to point a finger.  Both have a deep respect and understanding for what it means to shoulder the hopes and dreams of deeply passionate fan bases, and not only rise to the challenge but do it in a way that often shames their fans into recognition of what the other has accomplished. Canucks fans cheered Luongo’s departure from Game 4 in the Stanley Cup final, and then celebrate his “genius” against a Bruins’ team that was in reality stifled by a Vancouver team who was determined to recapture home ice.  Did Luongo contribute to his team’s success? Without question, but make no mistake, there is no way Luongo would survive under the crushing scrutiny of netminders in either Montreal or Boston.

Thomas and Price are not only exciting players, with talent worthy of the praise and adulation of their fans. However their willingness to publically and genuinely admire and appreciate their opponent while savoring the battle, puts them among a class of elite goaltenders which Roberto Luongo can only hope to someday reach.  If Luongo’s name is engraved on the Cup this week he will not have earned an iota of additional respect from fans throughout the league, not because he is “undervalued” but because he has not yet learned that what fans already know, Luongo is not in the same class of Price and Thomas.

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Filed Under: Boston BruinsEastern ConferenceMontreal CanadiensNHLVancouver CanucksWestern Conference

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About the Author: NHL Blogger, a fan of the Boston Bruins for 40 years, mom to the famous/notorious Bruins dog blogger, The Pup. The Pup is a savvy hockey dog in search of cookies (the jar is on the top shelf).

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  1. dont worry about it says:

    you should never be able to write any articles ever again, lol. not even because what you wrote was stupid which it most definitely was, its because you now have no credibility on this website, no one is going to take your articles from now on seriously becauase of this. just trying to help you out, bro

  2. Anon says:

    Your bio says it all for me and therefore your credibility went flying out the window. But just FYI you need to go back and really look at Luongo’s career I think you missed a few things…most noticeably his amazing play in the 2010 Olympics with all of Canada watching and millions more around the world, to say he lacks mental toughness is bizarre. And yes Thomas is the Bruins’ most valuable player without a doubt, the only thing you got right in your piece.

  3. lol wtf really says:

    was this a joke? you express absolutely no knowledge of this game. you are definitely talentless. and i now hate you as a person

    *looks at author note* omg youre an old mom, this makes more sense now

  4. .. says:

    DONT TELL ME MY BUSINESS DEVIL WOMAN

  5. Nobody Likes You says:

    Um, what is this? Are you serious? Are we talking about the same Tim Thomas who called out his entire team after games one and two in this series, while taking no blame himself? But, wait, no. You said Thomas doesn’t point the finger, you must be right. I should just ignore when Thomas blames his team-mates while taking no responsibility himself.

    Also, do you actually listen to entire videos or just the first sentence of a response? Since it looks like the former let me fill you in on the rest of the Luongo interview you very poorly referenced in your “article”. http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=15&id=117733&navid=mod-rr-headlines (here’s a link, just so you can actually see the whole interview).

    Just so you don’t have to actually listen to the whole thing. He actually mentions Thomas would make some saves he wouldn’t (based on their difference in styles). But hey, let’s ignore the second part of the statement, we all know that only the first thing you say matters. Might wanna remove you head from somewhere dark and smelly, maybe have a small glimpse of the light.

  6. Hawgs38 says:

    Love the hate folks. Quality hate. The name calling absolute GOLD! You guys are brilliant, really, how will I ever continue writing after being called out by such brilliant readers.

    The point was, and remains Luongo is a head case and boosts his own shaky confidence by taking a shot at a fellow goalkeeper, which is completely taboo and not done in even the most heated rivalries. Luongo has unmistakable talent but a .05 head. Thomas is not only one of the most respected players in the league for HIS talent but for his compete level. Same can not be said for Luongo.

    Just curious,was that you guys booing your netminder when he was pulled on Wednesday??

    Oh and as for the Olympics?? He was pooping his pants and should send Sid the Kid a gift basket every day for bailing out his butt after almost coughing up the gold.

  7. killerp61 says:

    Hey Shepard,

    Further proof women have no place in professional sports unless they’re half naked.

    Thanks

  8. Hawgs38 says:

    That’s such brilliant insight, thanks for stopping by killerp61.

  9. Nobody Likes You says:

    I am sure Luongo’s gold medal, world junior gold, multiple vezina nominations, taking over for Martin Brodeur on the Canadian team and keeping the second best hockey team in the entire world to two goals won’t keep him warm at night. Tell me, did Thomas manage to only allow two goals against Canada? O wait, he wasn’t good enough to play. And Price, I’m sure he enjoyed the view of the gold medal from his coach.

    But hell, let’s continue to focus on half of a statement made one time by Luo, completely ignore very, very recent Thomas events. Brilliant idea. You should probably run the NHL disciplinary team.

    So a head case somehow manages to get the most shut-outs in the playoffs? Since it also seems you don’t like to inform yourself of information, he has the same amount of shutouts in the playoffs as he did in the regular season. Sounds like a weak headed fool who folds under pressure to me. Wait…

    Also, if you want to try and use Luongo folds after letting in a couple goals, lemme check about Price. Oh yah he was the one who was replaced by Halak last year, booed out of net by the Montreal fans(while proceeding to taunt them by doing). He sounds like a strong head to me. Thomas, well he almost gave Tampa the shot at the Stanley Cup with a few horrid games in the Eastern Conference Finals. But let’s ignore evidence that doesn’t support my point, it would be foolish to look at both sides of the equation.

    • Hawgs38 says:

      Am I the first to call into question Luongo’s mental toughness? Not even the first this SERIES, never mind this post season. The man was pulled in a first round series when his team, up 3 games to none saw him implode, which is certainly not the first time he has done so against “the dragon” Blackhawks. In fact, had it not been an injury suffered by Schneider many (not just me) questioned if Luongo would have played again in the post-season.

      Carey Price has the toughest job in the NHL, and as a YOUNG goaltender (on a team I despise mind you) he was in way over his head last year. So what did he do this year, rebounded with a stellar season, including carrying an undermanned Habs team to a near upset of the Bruins.

      Thomas in the Olympics? Perhaps you have forgotten he was playing with a torn labrum and had major reconstructive surgery in the post-season and had a record setting year.

      Exactly what has Luongo overcome to demonstrate his mental toughness? I called into question his decision to call out a fellow netminder, much less one that has clearly outplayed him in THIS series. Perhaps most have forgotten that Vancouver was the overwhelming favorite coming into the SCF, boating the NHL’s best team and top scoring offense?

      Thomas and Price both have overcome substantial obstacles, and done it without popping off at one another or anyone else. Luongo wants to get cocky? Fine, direct it at the anemic Bruins offense, but take a shot at the guy that has held the league’s top scoring offense to 6 goals in 5 games with stand on his head saves?? Weak.

  10. Nobody Likes You says:

    Yet again you ignore the second part of Luongo’s statement where he says that Thomas could make saves he wouldn’t. Let me ask you are you blind, unable to read, or just dumb? Well, you responded to me, so it must be the last.

    Exactly what obstacles has Price overcome? Was it being the 6th overall pick of the draft? Given the reigns as the starter of a franchise even after he was outplayed and stripped of his starting position by his backup and unable to gain it back until that back up was traded. Please inform me of the terrible hardships faced by Price. God forbid you spend your entire career on a playoff caliber team.

    As for Thomas, yes he was hurt. We all know Luongo has never been hurt in his career, he is blessed with amazing unbreakable limbs, that even under immense pressure will not fold. News flash, Luongo was hurt last year too. One difference between Thomas and Luongo though, even hurt, Luongo didn’t lose his starting job to his back-up. Talk about a mentally weak goalie.

    Also, yes, Luongo imploded against the Blackhawks last year. About the same time he lost 2/3 of his starting defense. Let’s see Thomas play sans Chara, Seidenberg, Ference, and Boychuk. YOur man wouldn’t look nearly as good then.

    I notice how you continually stick to your same points (consistently rehashing the same spew), rather than countering anyone I put to you. Nice tactic, oh wait it’s not working.

  11. Hawgs38 says:

    Funny, I thought you wanted to have a discussion, not name call like the rest.

    Price was thrust into the spot of being the savior for a team with little to no seasoning, and in the most demanding and unforgiving fan base in all of sport. He was expected to be perfect immediately, far more pressure and expectation than any young goalie should be expected to shoulder. Are you at all familiar with the expectations of the Habs fan base?? You should be, since after all they are all basically rooting for the Canucks by default.

    LMAO, never said Luongo was made of steal, but you were the one who made this about last year’s Olypic comparison. To call Thomas “mentally weak”, demonstrates you are devoid of any perspective, any there are about 25 NHL analysts/experts (including Kevin Weekes) who would vehemently disagree with your statement. Thomas has battled his way at every level, his entire career, if he was mentally weak he would have chilled in the Finnish league. Never mind sat back and collected a check as Rask’s back-up this season.

    So what was the excuse for this year’s near implosion against a Hawks team that was mere shadow of their regular season self, never mind last year’s team??

    Thomas, Rinne, and Price…I would take them as my starting netminder over Luongo any day of the week, but good job sticking by your guy.

  12. Fred Poulin says:

    Wow a raging debate going on here! As a Habs fan, I have to applaud Tim Thomas’s performance in the playoffs so far this year even if I despise the Bruins my self! Should the Bruins win the next two games, I’d only by happy for Thomas and my hometown boy Patrice Bergeron! But stop bashing Luongo, yes he’s been inconsistent, but where has been the Canucks’ offense in the Final? They only have scored six goals in five games! The Sedin sisters have been all but invisible so far!

  13. Hawgs38 says:

    Actually Fred I wasn’t bashing Luongo’s abilities, just calling into question what MANY have commented on throughout his career, his lack of mental toughness. His comment on “pumping Thomas’ tires” and his swipe (intentional or not) at the “easy save” which cost the Bruins Gm5 only go to reinforce my point that for a netminder with his abilities his biggest weakness is what goes on between the ears. If you are going to talk the talk, you better be ready to walk the walk.

    I still think that either Price or Lundqvist were a better choice for Vezina finalist than Luongo, based on the teams they played for and the load they were required to carry, but perhaps that is my Eastern Conference bias.

    But as for the MIA Cancucks offense? I would like to think Thomas and the Bruins (in both venues) have had something to do with limiting their production. Hopefully for Thomas (and Bergeron) that can extend to Gm7.

  14. Mike says:

    It’s completely true.
    loluongo blows.
    Raging Canucks fans are hilarious.