Luongo’s been on fire as of late. He’s stolen games for us, his stats are fantastic, and there’s little you can say about him that at this point is negative. He’s 7-0 in his last 7 starts, he’s got a GAA of 0.85 in those games, he’s posted 3 shutouts in that span, and he at one point had a shutout streak of 145 minutes. People have taken for granted how well he’s been playing and no one’s stopped to think twice as to why he’s playing so well. It’s expected of him, by him and by the fans, but there’s a reason.
Luongo claims his play gets better the more he plays, but at the end of the day even “Luongod” is human. His first year he rode into the playoffs with a team that was good, but a stomach virus hit bad and let’s face it, with the number of games he played it only makes sense that he’d be slightly more susceptible to something that’s going around the locker room. Last year with the number of games he was called on to play, he just didn’t have the energy to deal with the emotional issues that plagued him throughout the season due to the complications of his baby.
This year, Luongo’s injury which shook the Canucks and the fans, came at arguably the most opportune time an injury can come. Luongo has a habit of starting off slow, warming up during the season, and peaking around three-quarters the way through the season. He then tires and as the post season rolls around he just doesn’t have anything left in the tank. His injury which kept him out for 24 games was a mid season break which allowed him to heal up, and rest. After a shaky return and a few slow starts his play has improved every game there in and it’s clear that he’s now peaking at the right time, in the playoffs. His peak time was thrown off by the amount of games he missed with that groin injury which bodes well for the team if they can remain defensively solid and continue to score goals.
I doubt management or coaching will ever be able to convince Luongo to play fewer games, but it’s clear that mid season break rested him enough that he was able to come back for the second half of the season rested enough that it seemed like the start of the season. Luongo’s seeing pucks, he’s in the zone, and it seems like there’s nothing that can throw him off that. No pregnancies, no attempts at playing ref, no excuses. He laid down the challenge when he said he wants to play for a team with a legitimate chance to win the cup and implied he was leaving. His play certainly proves he wants that cup and I think while we all expect of him what he has come to expect of himself, there’s a reason why he looks so energized and on top of his game right now. He set the standard for himself when he first came in, and that’s why we all expect the same from him. While his injury seemed like the worse thing that could happen, it looks like the long term benefit of the rest has inadvertently given the fans a lot to cheer about. This extra rest in between series is going to help to keep him fresh so you know going into round 2 he’s going to be ready to go from the puck drop.