It's been three weeks since the season ended for the Canucks and I've thought about a lot of things about the way things ended. Goaltending is a major issue right now for the Canucks. Starter Roberto Luongo will of course assume the role of no. 1 starter and should get roughly the same number of games in the regular season. However, the playoffs are a major concern. In the games Luongo won, he was spectacular at times, however in several losses, arguably all four in the Stanley Cup finals and games 3 and 4 in round 1 he was spectacularly horrible. So this begs the question: can he overcome the seemingly insurmountable mental blocks he tends to get in the playoffs. As a student of sports psychology it baffles me as to how Luongo can wilt under the most intense of pressures. He's signed for ten more seasons, with out clauses kicking in his contract in a few years. My biggest concern is the Canucks appear to have a limited window to win with their core group signed through the next 4 seasons. Luongo's got a solid defense in front of him and players up front that can spot him a lead, but that's all moot if he can't stop the stoppable shot. In the Nashville series, he was vulnerable to the play behind the net. In the Cup finals he appeared to lose concerntration (fatigue setting in from playing so many in a row?) I think Luogo has the technical skills to succeed, now he just needs a few sessions with a psychologist to strategize keeping his head in the game, and not letting a goal get him too low. Expect Lu to play the bulk of his contract in Canucks blue.
Luongo's current back-up is Cory Schneider. Schneids was nothing short of spectacu;ar in the regular season. This allowed the team to spell Luongo an extra 10 games leaving him fresher in the playoffs. Schneier played one game in the playoffs and mop up dity in a few others. In his one start he played well before leaving with cramps (although he was exposed a bit for overplaying the puck and being too casual getting back in net). As mentioned in the above paragraph the Canucks have a short window to win and the tandem of Lu/Scheids was solid last year. Schneider is under contraxct through next season after that he's an RFA. Gillis would be wise to keep Schenider given the weak market for back-up goalies currently. In fact he might try to re-sign Schneider after next season to keep him in the fold as long as possible and gives Eddie Lack more time to develop in Chicago as a starter
Finally Eddie Lack has just ompleted his first pro season in the AHL showing signs of being the future Canucks back-up. He had a solid regular season and fell just short of duplicating what the parent club did in the playoffs losing in the WCF to the eventual AHL champ. He needs to take what he learned in year 1 and continue to develop in the minors. Should Luongo or Schneider or whoever is the Canucks back-up ion the off-chance Scneids is traded, goes down with an extended injury, Lack would get called up and perhaps get in a game or two if the injury was say over a quarter of the season
In the present Gillis can stand pat with the goalies he has but after this coming season he'll have some decisions to make that could well define the future look of this team. One final food for thought, Gillis is saying publicly that he has faiith in Luongo but he has made his defense pretty solid, maybe privately he has his doubts. Just saying, look at the signings he made ove rthe paest off-season (Hamhuis, Salo, Bieksa, Edler, Baallard) pretty tight defensive core that gives up few opportunities