Olympic Interview: Team Canada Goalies Roberto Luongo and Martin Brodeur
Kevin Woodley is a rec-league target and former contributing editor of the Goalie News. He has written about the Vancouver Canucks and NHL for The Associated Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and The Hockey News for the last decade, and is currently at the Olympics for AP.
Luongo got most of the work in practice today, with Brodeur and Fleury (who saw the least amount of action) sharing a net. Shortly after these interviews coach Mike Babcock announced that Luongo would start game one vs. Norway and then turn to Brodeur against Switzerland.
One interesting Olympic equipment note for goalies — IIHF rules are up to date as far as measurements, such as the 11″ wide pads, but not all the recent NHL changes (no calf wedges, smaller knee pads, no inner belts on pants, etc.) but all the goalies I talked to today (Brodeur, Luongo, Nabokov and Bryzgalov) were sticking with NHL regulation stuff.
inGoal: Have you become caught up in the Olympics at all yet?
Luongo: “It’s exciting, we’ve been waiting for this a long time, not only myself and my teammates but everybody in the city, so it’s fun, it’s good to be here and we’re going to enjoy it for sure. It was kind of disappointing not to be here for opening ceremonies, but I tried to watch as much as I could, saw some of the ceremonies from the road, and have been watching some of the competition as well.”
inGoal: What is the difference from the NHL to the Olympics in terms of pressure?
Luongo: “Obviously it’s one game take all once we get into the quarters. A playoff series is 4-out-of-7 but here one mistake can cost you everything, but that’s what it is all about. At the end of the day those are the memories you will remember the most when it is all said and done. [When I played in the World Championships] there was always a moment somewhere in the tournament where it comes down to a fine line between winning and losing and we were lucky to be on the winning end both times.”
inGoal: Do you expect any carry over in from NHL to start of this in terms of how you are playing?
Luongo:”The system definitely changes, but personally nothing changes, just keep going and even though the last game Sunday wasn’t the result I wanted I felt actually pretty good during the game so I’m not going to dwell on it very much.”
inGoal: How much changes in terms of a new system for a goalie?
Luongo: “Not much, most of the systems are very similar, especially defensively. The general idea is the same. For me it’s just a matter of making sure I do my basic things that make me successful and try to get as big as possible in the net.”
inGoal: You would be familiar with most NHL players, but what will it be like facing Norway – a team where you don’t know many of their players.
Luongo:”Sometimes that actually helps. Sometimes when you rely on tendencies too much and they don’t actually come out – like a few times in practice today a couple of guys that I’ve played with before didn’t actually do what I thought they’d do and made me look silly. So sometimes it’s better not to rely on tendencies and just make sure you play your position well and cover as much net as possible.”
inGoal: Playing the puck is something that you have worked on lots this year, so with no trapezoid in international hockey, will you do it more here?
Luongo: “That’s quite a change. We’re used to playing the puck now a certain way and not going into the corners and stuff, so I’m going to go play the puck mostly behind the net as much as I can, and above the goal line, but I’m really only going to go into the corners when I am 100 per cent sure of what is going to go down here. I don’t want to be caught in an area I am not familiar with since the changes.”
inGoal: Can handling the puck more help stay in a game without a lot of shots?
Luongo: “Yeah of course, there are multiple ways. That’s one of them and also talking a lot in the zone when the other team is in the zone, make sure you talk and get involved in the play and it kind of gets you focused in the game.”
inGoal: Is there any advantage that comes from being in your hometown on game day?
Luongo: “I don’t think so because I am going to be at the village so it’s not quite the same, but I’ll be going through the same motions though. We’re all in the village. It’s great. It’s just nice to be part of something big, and the Olympics are definitely big and you want to live that experience to the fullest. I think living in the village is something that is an important part of the Olympic experience and you enjoy it.”
inGoal: How does it affect your game-day routine?
Luongo: “I’m actually starting to like afternoon games. I don’t mind them as much, I think I’ve gotten used to them. I’ve played them three or four times this year and felt good every game, so it’s just going to be a normal game day when I don’t skate in the morning and go through my regular preparation as if it was an afternoon game.”
inGoal: What’s your take on Russia’s top two lines?
Brodeur: “That’s as good as it gets. We’re not too shabby ourselves, but I think these guys, skill-wise, offensively, are pretty explosive. So if we do have to play them it’s something we will have to key on.”
inGoal: What are your expectations as the host country?
Brodeur: “It’s a great position to be in. You play hockey to win and might as well have the expectations and with the pressure comes with the support of our fans and our country that will be the seventh man for us. it’s going to help.”
“There’s pressure everywhere. We live in pressure everyday. You are judged by your last performance in the NHL and coming here I think it will be the same. You can’t fear that pressure. It’s a good pressure. It’s a pressure that’s going to keep us accountable to what we have to do and I think that’s going to help us especially in these first few games play these teams hard and get some momentum.”