Feb 14, 2014, 3:34 PM EST
Roberto Luongo didn’t make Mike Babcock’s life any easier on Friday.
The Canadian head coach, already lamenting tough lineup decisions — “it’s no fun,” he said of having to scratch players — now has another difficult one to make for Sunday’s clash against undefeated Finland.
Who starts in goal: Carey Price, or Luongo?
Babcock artfully dodged answering after a 6-0 rout of Austria, saying Saturday’s off-day would give him time to think, but it’s clear Luongo gave Babcock plenty to mull over after pitching a 23-save shutout against the Austrians, his first win in nearly three weeks as Vancouver entered the Olympic break on a seven-game winless skid.
“I feel pretty good after tonight,” Luongo said, when asked how he felt about his game. “Obviously, coming in we had lost seven in a row as a team. It’s tough to feel good about yourself. But I’ve been working hard this week, trying to work on my game as much as I can, especially with the adjustments on the wider ice, and I was happy with the results tonight.”
It’s worth noting that, when asked to evaluate his game prior to Sochi, Luongo replied “I don’t know.” He said it was tough to gauge because Vancouver was losing so much.
Funny what a win can do.
Luongo’s improved mental state could end up playing a role in Babcock’s decision because, as far as Canada’s opening two game went, there wasn’t much to analyze. Norway and Austria are the minnows of Group B and posted relatively low shot totals (and even fewer scoring chances). On paper, you could argue Luongo’s shutout was superior to Price’s 19-save effort against Norway, a game in which his puckhandling error led to the lone Norwegian marker.
But that’s on paper.
Looking back, it’s clear Luongo has an edge in big-game experience. He’s played in a gold medal game (which he won, in OT) and a Stanley Cup Final Game 7 (which he lost); Price, meanwhile, has never made it past the Eastern Conference Final and is making his Olympic debut.
Luongo said he’s learned from playing in pressure situations, but noted there’s a catch.
“Unfortunately, you learn more from the bad ones than the good ones,” he explained. “You just have to relax out there, have fun and enjoy the game. Sometimes things are going to happen and you can’t control them, but if you start thinking too much, that’s when bad things happen.”
There was some thought the Canadian brass wanted Price to take the No. 1 gig in Sochi and run with it, thus explaining why he was given the tournament-opening start. Luongo has, if nothing else, now given the decision makers something to think about — but to hear him explain it, both he and Price are ready to put aside personal desires for the benefit of the team.
“It doesn’t matter. We’re both ready. We both want to play,” he explained. “But at the end of the day, it’s their decision and whatever that is we’re fine. We’re not here for our personal agendas.
“We’re here to play for Canada. We’ll do whatever it takes to help them win. “
Mar 2, 2015, 7:55 AM EST
Monday’s collection of links.
Mar 2, 2015, 2:15 AM EST
It’s a first round and third round selection heading to Philly.
Mar 2, 2015, 1:50 AM EST
Tampa gets a pair of second-rounders.
Mar 2, 2015, 1:20 AM EST
Elliott and Allen saw action Sunday night.
Mar 2, 2015, 12:30 AM EST
Dallas’ skid reaches six games.
Mar 1, 2015, 11:30 PM EST
Winnipeg moves three points back of Chicago in the Central Division.
Mar 1, 2015, 10:50 PM EST
Malkin had a third straight three-point game.
Mar 1, 2015, 10:05 PM EST
He collided with Ales Hemsky.
Mar 1, 2015, 9:15 PM EST
The Washington forward remains in the game.
Mar 1, 2015, 8:30 PM EST
The Sharks get a fourth-round pick.
Mar 1, 2015, 8:00 PM EST
Both teams also swapped draft picks in the deal.
Mar 1, 2015, 7:36 PM EST
Dallas looking to snap a five game skid.
Mar 1, 2015, 7:06 PM EST
He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Mar 1, 2015, 6:45 PM EST
Both are free agents after this season.
Mar 1, 2015, 6:35 PM EST
It started with a Matt Greene hit on Mark Scheifele.
Mar 1, 2015, 6:15 PM EST
The Pens’ captain was unharmed on the play.
Mar 1, 2015, 5:56 PM EST
He’s 14 back of Marcel Dionne.
Mar 1, 2015, 4:20 PM EST
All the blockbuster details have been updated.
Mar 1, 2015, 3:38 PM EST
Sunday’s expected starting goalies.
Mar 1, 2015, 3:02 PM EST
Could Philly move him by Monday?
- Trade: Rangers land Yandle, Coyotes receive Duclair, first-rounder 67
- Trade: Capitals land Glencross, Flames get two picks 23
- Flames place Giordano on IR 5
- Flyers keep faint playoff hopes alive with win over Rangers 28
- Trade: Blackhawks acquire Vermette from Arizona for Dahlbeck, first rounder 74
- Jagr earns high praise in his Panthers debut 1
- Bruins maintain four-point edge in playoff race, hand Coyotes ninth straight loss 5
- NHL on NBC: Rangers look for a fourth straight win against the Flyers 7
- Ducks score four third-period goals, come back to beat rival Kings 9
- Blackhawks aren’t done talking trades, will look to add another forward 13
- Wild beat Avs, dying seconds fight set stage for rematch (149)
- Petrovic: Chicago will ‘probably seek revenge’ for Kane injury tonight (82)
- Trade: Blackhawks acquire Vermette from Arizona for Dahlbeck, first rounder (74)
- Report: Alex Petrovic avoids discipline after injuring Patrick Kane (69)
- Trade: Rangers land Yandle, Coyotes receive Duclair, first-rounder (67)