I think most of us knew something like this could happen but were so used to Luongo walking on water that felt there was a better chance of Sami Salo playing an entire season healthy then Lui falling to a potentially serious injury.
But here we are.
So are the Canucks as screwed as the Brodeur-less Devils? Maybe. Best case scenario for our captain? Luongo is gone for a couple weeks, maybe a month or two. Worst case is obviously next season sometime. Having had my own groin injuries (ba-zing!), I know they can be tricky to treat. And I'm a clown, not LuonGod so rushing him back isn't a good idea either.
Here's how I see the positives:
1. Schneider gets the rock - After years of waiting or debating whether to trade him for a warm body (don't forget Dallas wanted him in addition to Kesler and Edler for Richards), the Boston kid finally gets his shot. So far this season he's been sick: a 10-1 record with the AHL lead in goals against (1.37) and save percentage (.945). He comes with a lot of praise and I'd expect we'll see him play sometime this week.
2. This team is still built from the goal out - Obviously we want Luongo to be the guy behind that human fort, but the fact remains Vigneault MAY not have to change too much because this is still a team that will collapse low and ice the puck when needed. There's no reason to change the system so I wouldn't suddenly expect teams to destroy Vancouver just because Luongo isn't in there.
3. Sanford is above average - The last time Vancouver put a mere mortal in net was 2005 when Alex Auld stepped to the plate for a (wacka wacka) injured Cloutier. Auld played decent enough as a starter, getting 33 wins and sporting a 2.94 GAA and a .902 save %. And that was behind the old run and gun Crawford days with the WCE and Jovanovski leading the charge. Little did we know that, at the same time, our current starter Sanford was helping backstop the Blues in his most statistically significant year (13 wins, 2.66 GAA, .908 save % and 3 SO's). And that was done on a poor Blues team with the likes of a young Jackman, Brewer and Weinrich on defense. Sanford hasn't been the go-to guy ever in his career in this system he could be anywhere from above average to good, especially considering how he played in Minnesota and Pittsburgh.
Did you really think I wouldn't be negative? Tisk tisk, here are the cons:
1. Sanford is above average - Aren't I tricky? Damn right bitches. Sanford being average means those one goal third period leads are no where near as safe as they were before. Hell maybe two goal leads too. If you go back to the Buffalo game, Sanford looked poor all around and absolutely flubbed Kotalik's first goal. Granted the Canucks weren't in-step then as they are now, but we plainly won't know if Sanford can hold the load of (a) a full NHL schedule and (b) bring his best against the best. And Sanford isn't a stranger to injuries either, going down to a groin injury of his own two years ago.
2. What if they both suck? - Certainly an option. What if Sanford gets shelled and yanked and Schneider stumbles out of the gate? What if one or both get injured? Who becomes the savior of the Canucks then, Karl Goehring??
3. The AHL ain't the NHL - No offense Cory, but the next three opponents are Detroit and a home and home with Calgary. That's a far cry from the Crunch, Americans and Rivermen (the last three Moose opponents). Vancouver remains the Burke-laced 'goalie graveyard' for a reason: a good season in one place often means nothing once you put that Vancouver uniform on (cough cough Martin Brochu cough cough). With no disrespect to his AHL and awesome collegiate record, Schneider is untested at the NHL level. We've seen others fail at the trial by fire approach. Will he?
Bonus con. Is the trap coming back? - Vigneault needs to eat dinner somehow, so if the new tandem falters how quickly are we going to see the reigns get pulled down on any of the quick, more liberal offensive flows to their games we have seen? Hell maybe he won't even wait, maybe it'll be tonight.
You're a Canucks fan so I trust your liquir cabinet is healthy already. But before you go mixing tequila with warm milk and a buttered rim (seriously, don't do that) keep in mind this team has been playing incredibly well from all parts of the ice. Demitra/Sedins, Wellwood, Kesler/Burrows, Ohlund, Mitchell and Bieksa (once he returns) are doing their jobs. If guys like Hansen, Pyatt, Bernier and Raymond heat up there's a slim chance we may not even notice Luongo's gone.
As long as the team in front of whoever the netminder is continues to do their job, the Canucks will be fine. Bank on it.