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The Noon Number: 1


Some hockey game last night, eh? It's rare, but sometimes, there are blowouts at both ends of the ice. The Canucks dominated the Rangers skaters—24 more shot attempts at even strength, out-chanced them 22-12, had the bulk of the powerplays and had three lines that looked dangerous all game...

...and yet the team managed to lose 4-0. The forwards getting lit up by Henrik Lundqvist is really nothing to be ashamed about. He's a goalie who records a lot of shutouts and is variably inconsistent between "dominating" and "pretty good goalie" and has now shut the Canucks out in consecutive games and stopped 71 consecutive shots. 

But today, the noon number is 1. The 1 could be Roberto Luongo's jersey number, but that doesn't quite provide us any context. Rather, today's 1 will be the 1 save that Luongo had on a New York Ranger scoring chance last night. The breakdown went as follows: They had 12 chances, scored on four and missed the net on seven of them. The one save, a clunky shot off the faceoff, where Luongo was screened by the official in the middle of the second period, did not look like a save made by a comfortable Roberto Luongo and he barely got a piece before the puck ended up on top of the net for another whistle and faceoff.

That in itself is worrying. I don't think that any fan can look at the four goals that went in last night or call them softies, but when you're paying a goalie a ridiculous amount of money to stop pucks, well, he should stop some pucks. While not blaming Luongo for the loss; you can't blame a goalie when your team got shutout, that's absurd, it's still possible to recognize his shortcomings in last night's game.

Luongo thus far this season has a close win in a high-scoring game and two close losses. Given the win came in his last appearance, you'd figure that the next stage in his progression would be a quality start: a game wherein he allows two or fewer goals and records a save percentage of .913 or above. He has yet to do that this season, despite having 41 last season, more than any goalie in the land (including Tim Thomas, who had 40, albeit in five fewer starts).

What I trust is that Luongo understands that his game has been overall sub-par to start the season. After a hiccup wherein four even-strength goals were allowed, this is no longer something that can be blamed on the penalty kill. His even strength save percentage took a 37 point dive last night and he finds himself on the second page of goalie leaders at Luongo will turn it around because Luongo knows he has to turn it around. He has been in this situation before with his back against wild air and has turned it around.

All goalies do. It's part of the job description.