The Canucks’ goalies are fantastic. Let’s talk about that.
(photo: Nick Procaylo/PNG)
During last spring’s playoffs, we all remember the endless Luongo versus Schneider debate. None of it was very intelligent; for some bizarre reason, many Canucks fans decided that truth was determined not even by their eyes anymore, but totally by their gut. They didn’t think Luongo, despite incredible numers all year long, ‘had it,’ and instead the basically untested Cory Schneider did.
Now we are dealing with a similar but basically different argument. Roberto Luongo has had a middling-to-poor start to the season. Cory Schneider basically hasn’t. And so the argument goes on.
Schneider was awesome this past week. He bailed his team out multiple times, as the Canucks continued to have struggles in their own end. He’s now a known, comfirmed and consistent positive force.
But we mustn’t forget that Luongo is too. All goalies have their struggles. All goalies get lit up at times. We could go back to the famous 9-0 shellacking of Patrick Roy in 1995 to see that even the greats have bad days. The shame here is that Luongo blew up so spectacularly against Boston. Yes some goals were his fault. But some were the defence’s. The series has been beaten to death, but the keys were thus: Tim Thomas playing the greatest sustained period for a goaltender in recent memory and quite possibly ever; the complete collapse of the Canucks’ power play; and the Bruins’ consistency in finding the back of the net. Two of those had nothing whatsoever to do with goaltending.
When Schneider came in for game 6, the bar I was in started cheering. Fine, so be it. The problem was not three minutes before they had all been cheering ‘luuuuu…luuuu’ as he battled to keep the Canucks in the game. I was so frustrated with their reaction that I actually yelled loudly at everyone ‘you can’t have it both ways! Changing our goalie is A BAD THING!’ It was the strangest experience, everyone stopped and actually heard what I said, and apparently thought about what I’d said for a moment. I wasn’t happy the goalies were being changed, they weren’t happy someone was yelling at them and the Canucks weren’t happy because, well we know why. It was a moment that really, really sucked. After the game a couple people came up to me and said ‘good for you, so many idiots cheer for this team, I’m glad you told everyone off.’
The situation now should be seen in the opposite light. The Canucks have two outstanding goalies. Both give the Canucks an incredible chance to win every time they play. In all the mayhem of the series loss to the Bruins, we forget that Luongo posted TWO 1-0 shutouts in the final, only the second goalie ever to do that. The other was Frank McCool for the Leafs in 1945, playing during the last war-affected cup final. (Luongo’s feat is another reminder of how impotent the Canucks’ attack was vs the Bruins.) Luongo gets it done, but he can’t do the whole thing by itself. Schneider, lately, has been getting it done, something we always suspected he could.
Neither goalie can make up for every mistake the defence makes. Thus, the fewer mistakes the defence makes, the fewer times Luongo or Schneider needs to be lights-out. If ‘lights-out percentage’ were a stat, both would rate very highly, but neither would 100%. The more chances you give the other team, the more likely they are to find the chink in the armour.
Let’s change the dialogue. Goaltending for this team is not a problem. Both options are outstanding. Let’s stop talking about the goaltending in a bad way.
Remember Dan Cloutier?