Robert Luongo has been a lightning rod in the Stanley Cup Finals.
On one hand, the Vancouver Canucks' goalie has been terrible. He's given up 15 goals in three games in Boston, and in Game Six he was pulled in the first period after allowing three goals on the Bruins' first eight shots.
But in Vancouver, Luongo has proven to be the star goalie who many believed would be a major reason the Canucks would advance to the Stanley Cup. He has two shutouts, and conceded only two goals in a game that went to overtime.
Luongo's success at Rogers Arena is a positive sign for the Canucks as they head into a momentous Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday night.
In a series that has seen the home team win each game, the pressure will be on the goalies. Unlike Luongo, Bruins' goalie Tim Thomas has been solid at home and on the road, giving up only eight goals in all six Finals games.
After a one-goal victory at home in Game Five, Luongo chose to downplay his counterpart's play, saying about the game-deciding goal: It's an easy save for me, but if you're wandering out and aggressive like he does, that's going to happen.
BEYOND THOMAS AND LUONGO:
The Bruins were incensed that Luongo would call out their goalie and responded on their home ice in Game Six by thrashing the Canucks 5-2.
It will be interesting to see if the momentum from Game Six transfers to Game Seven. When the Bruins outscored the Canucks 12-1 in Games Three and Four, they were shutout in Game Five in Vancouver.
Boston has their work cut out for them and they know it. The offense looked terrible in Game Five. The Canucks had 15 takeaways in Game Five, compared to the Bruins six.
The Canucks have had even larger struggles offensively. Two players that will likely break out of their slump are the Sedin Twins. So far, they've been neutralized by a hard-nosed Boston defense.
Daniel Sedin only has one goal and one assist in the Finals. Henrik Sedin has fared even worse -- he has one goal, and no assists.
After predicting victory for Game Seven, Daniel in some ways is calling himself out. He looked like a human speed bag at one point in the series, and he and Henrik have been invisible in the Finals. Daniel's prediction might mean that he will come out with his best effort in Game Seven, or he just has that much faith in Luongo outdueling Thomas. More than likely, it means the former.
As sports pundit Jim Rome pointed out, Sedin is no Mark Messier. That's true so far, but Game Seven will be his chance to prove he's more than regular-season star.
Boston must feel that the Canucks' luck will have to run out. If there was a game that Vancouver completely dominated at home, that would be cause for concern for the Bruins, but Boston has hung tough in each road game.
David Krejci has been the Bruins best postseason player, and as much as the Sedin Twins need to step up in Game Seven, so does Krejci. Of the 19 goals scored by Boston, Krejci only has two.
Game Seven will obviously be tough and physical. These two teams really dislike each other, and not just because they're Stanley Cup opponents. There has been plenty of trash-talking, dirty hits, suspensions, and injuries on both sides so each team has taken the series personally.
In physical games, power plays and goalie become even more vital. Whichever team does better with a man advantage wins Game Seven. As for the goalies, Game Seven will probably be even. Thomas has been excellent all series, and Luongo has been dominant at home.
Expect inspired performances from both teams and a rockin' Rogers Arena as Canucks fans try to will their team to its first ever Stanley Cup victory.
In other words, Game Seven should be one to remember.
PREDICTION: Boston 2, Vancouver 1 (In Overtime)