Based on the reaction this morning, you would have thought the Vancouver Canucks had lost to the Colorado Avalanche last night. You would have even thought the Canucks were playing like the Canucks of January and losing most of their games. You never would have thought that the Canucks have, in fact, won 14 of their last 17 games (14-3-1). And you never would have thought that Roberto Luongo was in net for all 14 of those wins.
Apparently, with almost everything going right for the Canucks and regular whipping boys Kyle Wellwood and Taylor Pyatt breaking out of their scoring slumps, the good folks in this bandwagon city need to focus on someone else. Today, that focus happened to be Lui.
It couldn’t have been a better 34th birthday present for Darcy Tucker.
The feisty Colorado Avalanche winger was parked behind the net when Roberto Luongo misplayed a puck early in the third period on Sunday. Tucker then banked a shot in off the goalie from the end boards to turn what looked like an easy win into a 3-2 game. The Canucks would prevail 4-2, but what about that goal, Louie?
From (Brad Ziemer (Vancouver Sun):
As it turned out, Luongo’s miscue Sunday night didn’t cost the Canucks anything, other than some anxious moments. Tucker’s goal 14 seconds into the third made it a 3-2 game and the Avs had a couple of glorious opportunities to tie it up. The Canucks prevailed 4-2 in the end as they matched a club record with their ninth straight home-ice win.
But Sunday’s game had a familiar feel to it. Luongo, for the most part, provided Vancouver with solid goaltending and made a number of big saves. However, he allowed that one soft goal. It’s happened a lot lately, including the last four games.
The previous Monday at the Staples Center, Los Angles Kings defenceman Denis Gauthier, who is not anything resembling a sniper, beat Luongo with a 50-foot shot from the left point that the Canuck goalie badly misplayed. The shot, which appeared to be going wide, bounced off the collar of Luongo’s glove and into the net.
Two nights later in Anaheim, Luongo served up a terrible rebound to Petteri Nokelainen, who promptly deposited it into an empty net. And this past Friday, Luongo was beaten short side from a very sharp angle by Kings centre Anze Kopitar.
Because I don’t want to come down from the high of this recent run just yet, instead of talking about the shots Lui let in, I’m going to point out the 321 he didn’t in the last 13 games.
Lui has started 13 consecutive games since Jason LaBarbera’s last appearance on February 13. In that time, he’s only allowed 27 goals on 348 shots for a save percentage of 0.922. He has a 2.05 GAA, having allowed 2 goals or less in 10 of those games (the only exceptions being the games against Calgary on February 17, Los Angeles on March 9, and Anaheim on March 11).
I’m not saying Lui should be immune from criticism because I’m sure he knows that he can be better. And for what it’s worth, his coach isn’t all that concerned.
“Every goaltender sometimes has a goal he’d like to have back,” Vigneault said. “Right after they scored that (Tucker) goal, he made an unbelievable save on (Paul) Stastny. That’s the mark of a good goaltender and Louie has got that down pat.”
And that’s what’s being forgotten here. For each of those “bad” goals, Lui makes about 12 good and timely saves. It’d be nice if he can be perfect every single game, but as long as he’s only letting in 2 and the Canucks are scoring 3, I’m not complaining.