The Luongo/Schneider Tandem In The Post Season

I had a conversation this morning with Bart Byl regarding our goalie tandem, which started with an open-ended question: would the Canucks pull Roberto Luongo in favor of Cory Schneider in the playoffs if Luongo got into trouble?

This is different from asking should the Canucks pull Lui if he gets in trouble. I'd like to think most fans (and management) are on the same page there. They should put the Sedins in Manitoba, Kesler in the press box and Rome as the first line center if that makes them a better team.

However Gillis has a lot riding on Luongo. Dating back to when Gillis started he stressed the importance that he and his netminder were on the same page. He's the one who slapped the C on that lid and then had to wrangle it off. Then of course there's that hefty contract (that the NHL brass has no problem with!). Gillis has gone to bat for Luongo through thick and thin; they're married to each other.

Vigneault is a different matter. His job is to ice the most competitive mix capable of winning. So far this season anyway, Schneider has shown he's a cut above Sabourin, Sanford, LaBarbera and Raycroft. From a simple asset management perspective, how could you not at least float the idea of a goalie switch if Luongo struggles (think Boston last year with Thomas/Rask)? Besides, the Canucks may only have this strong (and financially viable) tandem for a little while longer.

As luck would have it ESPN's daily debate (I had no idea there was such a thing) between LeBrun and Burnside touched on the same topic:

LeBrun: ...The Canucks haven't been shy to use Schneider in big games this season, and I think that gives them confidence that he could pull it off come playoff time should he have to start.

Burnside: ...I want some of what you're having if you think the Canucks will ever decide Schneider is a better option at any point in the playoffs this spring. Take this to the bank: If Schneider appears for anything other than mop-up duty in the postseason, the Canucks are cooked...

...and as you know, Mr. Burnside is never ever wrong. Ever.

It poses an interesting question. Say it's the second round (again!), we're up against Chicago (again!) and the Canucks drop two straight to the Hawks with Luongo coughing up five goals per game. No one's happy, he looks overwhelmed. Do you make the switch? At what point would you feel comfortable pushing Luongo aside or is that - as Burnside suggests - not an option at all, instead hoping he can pull himself together at the risk of flushing away another post season while a viable alternative sat on the bench watching?

Or, as Byl concluded, let's hope we don't have this discussion at all.

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