Dec 042009

I was a bit surprised by Alain Vigneault’s decision to rest Roberto Luongo and name Andrew Raycroft as the starter against the Carolina Hurricanes tomorrow.

Considering Luongo’s recent history in afternoon games – last season’s injury in Pittsburgh comes to mind – perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. In fact, it’s probably wise to sit Lui and minimize the risk of injury. Especially against what is currently the worst team in the league, it also gives Raycroft an opportunity to rebound from his last start ten games ago when he got yanked against the St. Louis Blues after only one period.

Why I’m surprised is because Lui is coming off two of his best games this season – the big win against Martin Brodeur on Wednesday night and the 38-save shutout against the Philadelphia Flyers last night. He’s on a roll right now and it’s rare you see a coach sit the guy with the hot hand. I understand why Vigneault made the decision – and to be clear, I’m not questioning him – but nevertheless, I’m still surprised by it.

On a side note, here are some stats for you folks to chew on.

After a rough start to the season, Luongo has quietly improved in several statistical categories. His season totals of 12 wins is good for 10th in the NHL, and his 2.41 GAA and 0.916 save % are closer to his career averages than the 3.88 GAA and 0.860 save % he had after the first two weeks of the season.

Lui’s been at his best since returning from injury. In the 10 games he’s played since November 10, he has a 1.97 GAA and 0.933 save % (1.90 GAA and 0.936 save % not including the St. Louis game in which Luongo entered the game in the second period). Since November 10, only Mikka Kiprusoff (1.76), Ryan Miller (1.79), Martin Brodeur (1.94) and Cristobal Huet (1.95) have a better GAA; only Kiprusoff (0.941) and Miller (0.937) have a better save %.

And when he comes back after four days off against the Nashville Predators, let’s hope his play hasn’t cooled down one bit.

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