Canucks Shutout by Rangers, Luongo Blamed

Thomas Drance
October 18 2011 11:45PM


Luongo's ugly night was compounded by an inverted Bicycle Kick from Alberts
Photo Credit: The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward

It was Rick Rypien Night at Rogers Arena and the Canucks, though absolutely dominant through forty minutes, were unable to beat Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers penalty-killers. In the third frame the ice tilted the other way, and the Rangers scored four goals, three of them on the rush and all of them from home-plate. Canucks fans jeered Luongo, at Rogers Arena and on Twitter, and Bieksa fought and taunted Brandon Dubinsky. When the final buzzer sounded, the Canucks record had slipped to 2-3-1 on the season.

It wasn't all bad news, the final score and Luongo's shaky play aside. Oft embattled defender Keith Ballard was paired with Kevin Bieksa and the pairing seemed to have pretty good chemistry - especially in the offensive end. They dominated possession when they were on the ice, and in one hilarious sequence had back to back chances from the blue-paint in front of King Henrik.

Another positive came in the form of Cody Hodgson, who was fantastic when he was on the ice. In the first he set up Alex Burrows on the power-play for the only Canucks chance that beat Lundqvist (didn't beat the crossbar, however). He also looked great on a second period play when he managed to both draw a New York Rangers penalty, and set up Higgins for a quality scoring chance. Hodgson was possibly the best top-six forward for the Canucks, which, is one of those positives that is actually a negative. If Hodgson was your best top-six forward, it means the twins weren't all that good.

The bad news is twofold - Luongo had an atrocious game. All of the Rangers goals came off of quality chances and two of them came off complete defensive breakdowns by Canucks defenders. None of this changes the fact that allowing four goals on less than twenty shots is almost never going to get the job done.

Personally, I don't buy that the "Bruins broke Luongo" or that he's somehow lost whatever it was that made him an elite goalie for the better part of a decade, but something has got to give. Cory Schneider has been excellent in his two starts this season, Luongo not so much. Is it time to ride Cory Schneider and shelter Luongo's starts until the Italian Stallion reacquires his usual form? Expect a lot of this sort of talk over the next couple of days in Vancouver...

Finally the power-play produced chances but was relatively dreadful. Lots of people will point to the number of saves Lundqvist made tonight, and many of them were incredible (especially late in the second frame when the Canucks had a number of scrambles in the slot but couldn't put the puck home). But a lot of the Canucks shots came from the point. Canucks defenders took 14 shots in the game, 11 of them from the low-percentage areas well beyond the Bowman line. You know how the Rangers scored their goals? They picked corners on scoring chances. What did the Canucks do with most of their best chances in the first forty minutes? They put them well over the crossbar. The Canucks as a team recorded 18 missed shots, 4 from less than 20 feet, with the man-advantage.

So there you have it: the Canucks lost, Luongo sucked, the power-play was off, and the team's October malaise is becoming an increasingly unwelcome houseguest for Vancouver's hockey fans. Though Luongo was the guy earning the boo birds from the fans in attendance, it was the second time in the past three games in which the team was shutout. The Canucks offense isn't firing, the defense is an adventure, and Luongo has been subpar, to put it mildly...

But it's Roberto Luongo who finds himself scapegoated to the extreme. My theory: this is partly out of habit, and largely because of his contract. Another factor, it's easier to do than blaming the team, it's a crutch and a particular type of avoidance. Blaming Luongo allows fans not to address other worrying issues conerning the other stars on the team, like, the Sedins habit of getting dominated by top defensive clubs, or Edler's continued inconsistency.

The Canucks will have a chance to get back in the win column on Thursday night against the Nashville Predators.

Corsi/Fenwick

Zone Starts

Shift Charts

Head2Head Ice Time

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 Big Cap
October 19 2011, 01:07PM
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@ Courtney

Wake up dude! You sir, are the reason why Lou's play is even tolerated! You point out Jennings Trophies, and replays of years previous starts. His individual awards mean NOTHING! He plays on a Great team. He's gonna get wins, and good defensive numbers. Heck, you or I could probably win 20 games with this club...

Its Head to Head against other Top Goalies is when you get to compare Apples to Apples!!!

Secondly, Name ONE starting goalie in League history that won his team the Stanley cup and played incredibly poorly and pulled in 2 of 3 road games in the Stanley Cup Final.?? Bobby Lu was exposed and embarrassed in Boston. True goaltending Leaders like Roy, Brodeur, Fuhr, walk into buildings on the Road and steal wins. Lu couldn’t even make it out of the First period!

In fact, In the Chicago series we had to play the Corey Schneider the guy who you think is not NHL ready because LOU was so fragile.

WHAT KIND OF LEADER IS HE?? Name 1 other goalie who is a true winner and leader that gets pulled and debated about every game and weather or not he can handle the heat????

I also LOVE your acceptance of the poor starts every year. Great approach!! Slide it under the carpet as all previous years turned out great, right??

Courtney, GIVE YOUR HEAD A SHAKE MAN! You are a Canucks fan, and you believe that thinking LOU is our man and will lead Vancouver is wrong. DEAD WRONG!

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#2 Perry
October 19 2011, 03:16AM
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Luongo is a bum, the defense is overrated and if the Sedins don't score there is no depth to rely upon. Story of last years playoffs and a reason why the core wont do anything. Gee that power play is sure looking great without a certain German on the point(no not Marco Sturm)

Vigneault will be under the gun if he cant adjust quicker, Newell Brown too. How is Salo not on the 1st unit yet? Samuelsson is puke worthy there at times. Kesler needs to stop the one and done shots too, teams have probably scouted him on it.

The most important thing is let Schneider run with the starting job, this guys lateral movement and calmness in net is impeccable when compared to Sievuongo. He's probably stolen more games in the last year then Luongo has. (Dallas, SJ, Anaheim etc)

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#3 Courtney
October 19 2011, 04:36AM
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"The most important thing is let Schneider run with the starting job." You sir, are exactly the reason why I wonder how Luongo puts up with the crap he gets here. The guy has the second best career save percentage ever and you wanna give the job to a goalie who's played a grand total of 38 games in the NHL? Have you lost it? I get that he has some poor outings, but it's no reason to call him a "bum". Keep in mind that last year, he started with a 1-3-2 record en route to winning the Jennings trophy.

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#4 Perry
October 19 2011, 05:42AM
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@Courtney

I know another Canucks goalie who also won the Jennings trophy... What does the 2nd best career SV% mean? Cristobal Huet has the 9th best % but was garbage and got overtaken by Antti Freakin Niemi.

Cam Ward had 28 starts before taking over for Marty Gerber, Tuukka Rask had around 5 before supplanting a Vezina winner in Thomas. What's clear is that Schneider is giving the team a better chance to win RIGHT NOW and Luongo looks terrible in net. Last year he started 2-3-3 in October with a GAA of 3 and a SV% of .934! And he looked 10x better then which is disturbing.

The guy clearly has some kind of consistency issue and decline in his play and it's unacceptable at his salary/cap hit.

Obviously I may have overreacted with the bum/sieve thing but there are other issues such as defensive coverage and a powerplay thats hopeless without Ehrhoff. And you have to give some of the credit for the difficulties to King Henrik in that blue paint.

But you look at Lundqvist(highest paid goaler in the league) and see him stealing games and our supposed superstar in net can't even make a few saves to bail out the D? Only 7 more years Canuck fans.... unless we can crack the guy and send him packing early. CONTINUE TO JEER CANUCK NATION!!

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#6 Jordan Clarke
October 19 2011, 08:56AM
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The Canucks should have been going into the 3rd period with at least a 2-0 lead. Blaming Luongo only evades the real issues: the Sedins were being pushed around and were completely ineffective (starting to become a worrying trend), and the defensive zone coverage was laughable in the 3rd period. The Rangers were basically allowed to set up camp and go for a leisurely hike in the slot, and they sniped two perfect shots and made one perfect pass. Luongo gave out the rebound on the first goal, sure, but if the defence is on their game that's probably cleared away.

Meanwhile, Lundqvist made some brilliant saves, but the Canucks also lobbed a bunch of low percentage shots into his pads. The team lost patience when it was still 0-0 and started cheating, leading to Rangers chances the other way which they capitalized on.

Overall a pretty frustrating night. We've seen this kind of lackadaisical defensive play in October before, though, so I'm confident they'll sort it out sooner rather than later.

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#7 Mantastic
October 19 2011, 09:45AM
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the blue shirts don't even have that good D and i would say they are youngest corps out there. if you say they have strong D, sedins are in a lot more trouble.

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