Credits: REUTERS/Ben Nelms
You know it must have been going through his mind.
Standing in his crease about 180 feet away from the play, Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, like the other 18,000 people at TD Garden, watched teammate Brad Marchand rip a snapshot over the shoulder of Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, who was standing well back in his net.
If you could read Thomas's mind, you probably would have heard him say something like this:
"With my style of cutting off the angle and challenging the shooter, I would have made that save. But because Luongo plays on the goal line, there was room in the top corner."
How sweet it must have been for Thomas to see the net bulge at the other end behind Luongo just 5:31 into Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final Monday thanks to Marchand, who gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
Two hours later, long after the Bruins had chased Luongo en route to a 5-2 victory that forced a Game 7 on Wednesday in Vancouver, Thomas was asked by QMI Agency if he would have stopped Marchand's shot.
He didn't take the bait.
"I'm not going there," he said. "I prefer to talk about the good shot Marchand made to get us going."
If only Luongo had shown the same type of verbal restraint in the previous few days that Thomas exhibited Monday, maybe Game 6 would have been different for the Vancouver goalie.
Just 72 hours earlier, it was Thomas' aggressive style that was being questioned. At least that's the way many here in Beantown had construed it.
Having just shut out the Bruins 1-0 at Rogers Arena last Friday, Luongo was discussing Vancouver's winning goal. It came after Vancouver's Kevin Bieksa launched a pass that went off the kicker board behind the Boston net right to Canucks forward Maxim Lapierre, who banked it in off Thomas.
Afterward, Luongo said he likely would have stopped Lapierre's shot because he plays back on the goal line.
"It's not hard if you're playing in the paint," Luongo said at the time. "It's an easy save for me, but if you're wandering out and aggressive like he is, that's going to happen."
When you break it down, he was right. Given his style, he probably would have stopped the shot.
Besides, it was just as much a shot at his critics as it was at Thomas. After Luongo was beaten 12 times in the previous two games in Boston, this was probably his way of telling them: "See, I'm not so bad myself."
Had he left it at that, the issue probably would have fizzled out.
But he didn't.
Instead, he kept talking the next day, claiming he had "pumped the tires" of Thomas earlier in the series without receiving any love from the Boston goalie in return.
What should have been nipped in the bud through silence had escalated in the full-scale controversy known as Louie-Gate.
It certainly looked as if Luongo's words concerning Thomas motivated the Bruins, who pumped three goals past him in the first 8:35 of play in Game 6. At least one of those -- a Milan Lucic wrister that somehow found a way through Luongo -- had a distinct odour to it.
Down 3-0, Vigneault gave Luongo the hook, much to the glee of the capacity crowd. For the remainder of the Bruins' 5-2 win, they mocked him with chants of "Luuu-onnn-go," knowing full well he was sitting on the bench.
"I should have had it," Luongo admitted, referring to the Marchand goal. "But I have to believe in myself, right? That's a big component in coming back."
The Twitter word was immediately saturated with panicking Canucks fans calling for Schneider to start Game 7.
It won't happen. Coach Alain Vigneault confirmed Luongo will start, and rightly so.
In two of the three games at Rogers Arena, Luongo has pitched shutouts. This should be the goaltender's series to win or lose.
As long as he keeps his five-hole closed.
As well as his mouth.