No Vancouver eulogy would be complete without taking a look at who has a new plot in our goalie graveyard. Of course that very Burkian term ceased to exist on June 24, 2006 when Dave Nonis steel toed Todd Bertuzzi out the door and brought in our netminding captain who has helped get the team to a handful of division championships and playoff appearances. Even with a depleted defense, wouldn't a very good offense and a gold medalist in net be enough to get the Canucks past the second round for a change?
Of course not.
After the jump we take a look at the captain, the reclamation project and the bluechip ginger and all of the highs, lows and obligatory laughs therein.
|2009 - Roberto Luongo||68||3899||40||22||167||2.57||1915||1748||.913||4|
What He Did: This was Luongo's fourth tour of duty with the Canucks and the third of which he helped steer them to (a) a Northwest championship and (b) the second round of the playoffs. Last summer started with talks of trading him and ended with his signature at the end of a 12 year, $64 million dollar staggered deal. With the franchise firmly in his hands, many of us went back to worrying about his groin, his puck handling skills and how the Chicago loss from the previous year would wear on him. Along with the rest of the team, he had his typical slow start (6-6 in October) and then had a rib injury that sidelined him for a week. Any semblance of a problem with his game evaporated in December and January where he played 27 games with a 19-5-3 record along with two shutouts. Following the Olympics is where the problems started: in his remaining 21 games, he got 11 wins but coughed up 63 goals for a fugly 3.23 GAA. He stumbled a bit into the first round where one of the biggest questions was which goalie would suck more. While he played well against the Kings, he - very much aided by the questionable defense in front of him - fell apart against Chicago. Luongo's career post season stats leave a lot to be desired:
|2006-07||5||25||427||.941||1.77||3 of 22 SV%, 4 of 22 GAA|
|2008-09||6||26||304||.914||2.52||14 of 25 SV%, 12 of 25 GAA|
|2009-10||6||38||362||.895||3.22||16 of 27 SV%, 20 of 27 GAA|
For The Record: Curious what teams put the biggest hurt on Luongo? Try the 22nd in scoring Minnesota Wild who tuned him for 17 goals in five games. The 30th in scoring Flames were second with 16 goals in six games. On the flip side, he pitched shutouts against the Flyers and Panthers this season so his stats were the best against them.
Summer Assignment: Despite the Olympic Gold, the biggest knock against Luongo will remain that he's not a big game player. He's the Joe Thornton of goalies though, to be fair, at least Thornton got to the conference finals.
Even his most ardent supporters have to embrace that Luongo - strong in previous campaigns and indeed since the lockout - had an off season. Even an off season is decent considering he still got 40 wins which was the second best for his career and 5th best in the league. He wasn't the most inconsistent goalies this season and remains one of the more "skilled" netminders around.
Besides, if Vancouver can now simply outscore their opponents, do you care how the wins come?
Therein lies the potential problem, one that came directly from Luongo's mouth. In his four seasons in Florida, the Panthers were never better than 22nd in the league in scoring (240 goals in 2005-06). Vancouver had 272 goals this year - good enough for 2nd best - and a continued increase from 246 goals in '09 and 213 goals in '08. Also remember that Luongo thrives on shots; the more the better but this season he faced the least amount of shots against (1915) in his career, assuming a 60 game minimum. So is it possible that we never truly saw his struggles because the goals & wins kept pouring in, the back-up did his job and, hey, he's Roberto friggin Luongo? Maybe we assumed - rightly so - that less shots per game shouldn't be a problem for a guy with his accolades? Maybe this year was the learning curve he needed if the offensive progression is one where he will face far more games with 20 or fewer shots? Too many maybes. I don't know.
Just saying "I don't know" is a good way to approach Luongo's summer. Dissecting how to fix his problems is as problematic as defining precisely what the specific issues are, be they his own, the team's or a myriad amount of other in-game variables. Infinitely more frustrating is seeing Niemi and Leighton prove you don't need to spend top dollar on the netminder and yet that is exactly what the Canucks are locked into.
He and management need to have a meeting of the minds and figure out a few things. Then Luongo needs to address his demons on his own time which is why stripping him of the captaincy certainly isn't a bad idea (and it would look simply fetching on Ryan Kesler no?). Next season he's our ten million dollar man, but whether he helps push this team forward (very much like 2006-07) and past the second round of the playoffs with dominant and consistent netminding is the only way he'll earn every dollar coming his way. Until then, the hater's are going to hate and they have every right to do so.
|2009 - Andrew Raycroft||21||967||9||5||39||2.42||438||399||.911||1|
What He Did: Gillis looks like a mad genius for dropping the league minimum on Raycroft's lap but let's be honest: knowing whoever he employed would be sandwiched between Luongo and Schneider allowed him to be frugal. But it was the perfect situation for a goalie no one wanted and the fact Raycroft ended up being the best back-up Vancouver has had (wins and GAA) since the lockout had to exceed even the rosiest of preseason predictions. He appeared the most against the Ducks (x3), the Blue Jackets (x3) and the Wild (x3) but his most notable moments included shutting out his former Colorado employer and earning some laughs in Toronto (well, different laughs at any rate). Note that his win in Toronto was the only time this season he spelled Luongo and earned the W. Sure he wasn't perfect, but this season marks the first time since his 2003-04 Calder trophy season he can head into the summer with his head up.
For The Record: Being a back-up goalie is pretty thankless, but if all they should be counted on is to spell the starter and to net the occasional win, then it's worth mentioning that Raycroft's nine wins was the exact same as Josh Harding, Martin Biron, Alex Auld and Vesa Toskala (on two teams mind you) had, one more than last year's back-up Jason LaBarbera and two more than Chris Osgood and the injured, tipsy Nikolai Khabibulin.
Summer Assignment: It's possible Raycroft returns, especially if Schneider is dealt. But it's equally probable Raycroft wants to be a starter again and that certainly isn't going to happen in Vancouver.
|2009 - Cory Schneider||2||79||0||1||5||3.80||59||54||.915||0|
What He Did: Has a ginger ever had this much influence on a team he barely plays for? He's been a rumored #1 netminder from the second he was selected 26th overall in 2004. Once Luongo joined he flipped to the bluechip asset to be traded...any second! Two seasons ago he was tossed into the fire, along with Curtis Sanford, to keep the Canucks afloat while Luongo's groin healed. Last summer he gave MG the flexibility to sign Raycroft and still was called upon when Luongo's rib injury had him sidelined for a week. He didn't win either game he played in this season, but if you remember his start against Dallas, you know you saw something special. The kid's legit.
For The Record: He had a career best 60 games played and 35 wins for the Moose this year, though both his save% (.919) and GAA (2.51) were lower than last season.
Summer Assignment: Just keep doing your thing. Chances are you're in the NHL next season, either backing up - and potentially shouldering a bigger load - for Luongo or on another team with a chance to be a starter. Either way, you're long overdue for consistent NHL work.