Have the Canucks been struggling as of late? Yes, but that does not mean you immediately fire the coach and make rash trade decisions! A four game skid is hardly the time to panic. Now, that everyone has started to relax due to the Canucks much needed victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Let’s look at it like this: last night marked Game 25 for the Canucks, their official start to the 2nd half of their season, and 1-0-0 to start.
The win in Columbus finally put the Canucks over the 30 point mark. Did anyone think that the talk heading into last night’s game would be about the Columbus Blue Jackets being the hottest team in the NHL over the last 7 games? No, because hot streaks just do not encompass the Blue Jackets of old. Beating Columbus is not as easy people seem to think it used to be or should be. Despite them being 13th in the conference, they have just had 8 straight games with a point [5-0-3]. And even though the Blue Jackets are slightly under the .500 level of wins, in 5 games vs. Detroit this year they have gone 4-0-1, pretty impressive for a team everyone expects to beat. Not too mention their goal-tending from Bobrovsky has been incredible as of late. Enough about Columbus. Did you hear Chicago lost 2 in regulation in a row? [yes I know, no big deal for a team that already has 45 points!] Or how about the fact that Sidney Crosby is leading the scoring race with 45 points & counting?[he seems to picking up right where he left off before his concussion]. Or how about Steven Stamkos yet again being the first forward to surpass the 20 goal mark?
Rumors are getting louder in regards to the Flames, Iginla and Kiprusoff. Rumor has it is not whether Iginla will be moved but a matter of WHEN he will be moved. Buzz is also surrounding Kiprusoff’s long-term status with the team. The problem with the these rumors are that if the Flames ever moved Iginla, not only would their fans want to riot, but it would extremely disrespectful to the face of their franchise. Iginla has been with the organization for his entire career [nearly 18 years!]. The other major issue with moving either of these players is the question of their asking price and what other teams would be willing to give up in exchange for Iginla or Kipper.
BACK to BUSINESS: Last night also marked just the 2nd start for Roberto Luongo in two weeks. Yes that Detroit game was a debacle and the Calgary game was anything but pretty. Luongo was the first one in both of those games to admit he was not at his best in either game, but then again where was the rest of the team in BOTH of those games? It was not just that Luongo was shaky in those games, it was the fact that the ENTIRE team seemed to disappear in both. It made sense that Cory Schneider would get a chance to build off his victory against LA following those games, but instead of rising to occasion what followed was 3 straight losses which exposed some major inconsistencies to Schneider’s game. Yes I know shocking to think that the ever praised Cory should struggle when called upon, but true. The thing is all those fans who demanded for Luongo to be sent packing[and are now begging him to stay!] were so certain that Schneider would be the answer. I admit the guy is a great athlete, but he has not played anywhere near the level he was at last year. This season has been a constant ‘be kind, rewind’ year for Schneids as his play has been consistently inconsistent much to the chagrin of his fans. There seems to have been this false belief that he could and would never fail built up, so when his struggles began it was hard for his major fans to understand. Relax, the guy is human, and humans much to our chagrin are prone to making a few mistakes.
No one is perfect, but alas that is problem yes? That is the same thing that has been plaguing Luongo since he started playing for the Canucks…every time he plays brilliantly EVERYONE loves the guy, but heck a few bad games and the ENTIRE city turns on the guy! The city has not completely turned on Schneids, but more and more cries for Luongo to stay[for atleast this year] are getting louder. I still cannot understand the rush to send the guy away. Do Canucks fans remember the last time we had a goal-tender of Luongo’s caliber? It was back in 1994. Since Luongo began his tenure in 2006, the Canucks have only missed the playoffs once, won 5 division titles, 2 presidents trophies, 1 Western Conference Final, and took the home team to game 7 of the Final. Not to mention him winning an Olympic Gold Medal in 2010 in front of the home fans. When Luongo arrived, he brought with him a winning attitude and the drive to push himself and his team mates to be better. Coming into this season, even though the media decided that he was now the backup net minder that did not deter his work ethic, he spent 7 weeks in Florida training with all-star goalie coach Francois Allaire. With all the attention thrown at Schneider, Luongo has been very patient and never uttered one negative word towards his friend, simply being supportive. Both Luongo and Schneider have dealt with this media perpetrated controversy with a high level of maturity. Schneider has not had to deal with any real negative press until his inconsistent play this season. It is easy to talk to the media when you are playing well, but extremely difficult when you are struggling. Last year Schneider was not the starter and always coming in to play hero as the back up, so there was no pressure whereas this year he was supposed to be the undisputed starter. That is not what happened as his season began with less than stellar play. Luongo knows the pressure that comes with playing in the hockey crazed Vancouver spotlight and all the ups and downs that come with it. When you’re on a roll, the whole city is behind you but start to go on a skid and suddenly the whole city is calling for your head. Maybe its the pressure, maybe its something else that is responsible for Cory’s struggle for consistency this year, but now is not the time to go for the gamble, it is time to go for consistency on a nightly basis. Cory has been given many many chances to secure himself as the number one, but thus far has been unable to do so, which has paved the way for Luongo to provide the consistency the Canucks are in need of. I don’t know about you, but I am glad that the Canucks were not in hurry to give Luongo away with the way the season has gone [not too mention just about every team in the league this season has depended on the play of BOTH their goalies]. Here’s to an intriguing second half!
A closer look at Cory & Lu’s stats thus far:
In 14 starts Cory Schneider is 6-5-3 [15 points earned]. In that span he has earned 1 shutout, sports a 2.63 GAA and 0.910 SV %. in 14 starts, 7 times Cory has allowed 3 or more goals.
In 11 starts Luongo is 6-2-3 [15 points earned, earning points in all but 2 starts]. In that span he has earned 2 shutouts, and sports a 2.08 GAA[yes even with that debacle in Detoit!] and a 0.917 SV %. If you take away the Detroit game, his numbers improve to somewhere near the neighborhood of 1.63 GAA and a 0.943 SV%.
Tomorrow is #gameDAY! Cannot wait to see my #Canucks take on the red hot #Predators live at Rogers Arena tomorrow for my birthday! My birthday wish for tomorrow is for Luongo to get the start, Bieksa to return & the Canucks to get a HUGE win at home! We will have to wait and see what AV’s coin reveals tomorrow, but for now: #GoCanucksGo!
25 games down, 23 to go.
Here’s looking to #LOUKID!
As always, until next time, nuck said.