Luongo, Or Not Luongo?

Roberto Luongo has a distinguished international career. Representing Canada on the international stage he has collected four gold and two silver medals – the most recent one coming after he backstopped Canada to Olympic gold, replacing an ineffective Martin Brodeur. Considered a franchise goaltender by most at the NHL level, he has added another bullet to his credentials as Canada’s premiere crease talent: his 0.924 SV% this season ranks fifth among NHL starters, and is the best mark posted by a Canadian.

What does that mean for his chances at Canada’s 2014 Olympic team? Well, if you’re Pierre McGuire, it means he should be sitting at home watching the television like the rest of us.

TSN analysts Pierre McGuire and Ray Ferraro decided to mark the one-year anniversary of Canada’s gold medal win in 2010 by putting together the team they expect to see in 2014. They agreed on 22 of the 23 players, with the Luongo being the lone player the two analysts didn’t see eye-to-eye on. From the article:

Ferraro and McGuire agreed on two goalies that would definitely be on their roster, and they include Marc-Andre Fleury (who was third on the depth chart in Vancouver) and rising Canadiens star Carey Price. Where they couldn’t agree was on the other goalie to round out their trio. McGuire went with Carolina’s Cam Ward, who battled injury during orientation camp for Vancouver, and never felt he could show what he could do. Ferraro went with Roberto Luongo. The Canucks goalie replaced Martin Brodeur after Canada lost to the United States in the round robin, and never looked back, winning every game the rest of the way including the gold medal game against the U.S. Neither GM stipulated who would be their starter, backup or third stringer.

How does Luongo compare to the three goaltenders McGuire sees as superior? Let’s look at their even-strength save percentage numbers over the past three and a half seasons.

Player 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 Totals
Roberto Luongo 0.929 0.936 0.925 0.930 0.929
Carey Price 0.929 0.920 0.921 0.930 0.925
Cam Ward 0.917 0.926 0.924 0.922 0.922
Marc-Andre Fleury 0.940 0.922 0.908 0.927 0.922

Obviously, all four goaltenders are very good, but even so Roberto Luongo stands out. None of the other goaltenders can claim the level of consistent excellence that Luongo has displayed over the last few seasons. With the exception of Marc-Andre Fleury’s shortened 2007-08 season, none of the goaltenders here can even claim to have exceeded Luongo’s performance once in any of these seasons.

Barring further developments, not only should Luongo be on the team, but he should be the starter. Carey Price stands a strong chance of being named to the team, and at this point I’d argue it is a toss-up as to whether Cam Ward or Marc-Andre Fleury should be the other goalie in the mix.

  • Yankee Canuck

    If things go as they stand with the NHL and the Olympics, the three Canada goalies could very well be Jeff Deslauriers, Jonathan Bernier and Jake Allen.