Over the latter half of the lockout shortened 2013 regular season, Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider went on a run and cemented his status as the everyday starter for the club. As the team racked up wins, Roberto Luongo appeared to adjust to life as a backup and remained focussed and committed to the team even though his bitter disappointment over staying put at the trade deadline was evident.
For a brief shining moment earlier this month it appeared as if the neverending soap opera that has engulfed Vancouver’s crease ever since Cory Schneider was named the starter for game six of the club’s first round series against the Chicago Blackhawks way back in 2011 had subsided. Perhaps normalcy might finally reign. Then, of course, Cory Schneider got hurt in the last week of the regular season, and now, of course, Roberto Luongo will be starting in game one of Vancouver’s first round playoff series against the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night. How silly we were to think this situation could possibly unfold any other way.
Read past the jump.
Realistically the difference in quality between Robreto Luongo and Cory Schneider is pretty slim. Cory Schneider has been the better goaltender over the past two seasons, but not by all that much and he’s played in fewer games. This season while appearing in the fewest number of games since his rookie season, Roberto Luongo battled with consistency but still pitched a quality start over 60% of the time (a very healthy number).
In other words, with Cory Schneider still on the shelf nursing his mysterious "body injury," at least Vancouver’s fall back plan is a goaltender whose recent track record is basically unmatched by any NHL goaltender not named Henrik Lundqvist over the past five or six years. That should be a comforting thought for Canucks fans, especially considering that in an alternate universe not too much different from the one we inhabit Vancouver’s game one starter on Wednesday is a guy named Ben Scrivens.
Schneider’s injury, which obviously must’ve been more serious than Canucks management suggested last week since he’s not even healthy enough to backup Luongo on Wednesday, presents Vancouver’s deposed starter with one hell of an opportunity to step up and reclaim the crease on the big stage that is the NHL playoffs. If Roberto Luongo plays up to his usual standard, or even manages to steal a win for the Canucks on Wednesday, it’s not difficult to imagine him remaining in the net even once Schneider is healthy enough to return.
So a fascinating story takes another fascinating turn. It’s looking like game one of this series certainly won’t be devoid of drama.