Leave it to a fan of Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils, Grey Wyshynski (aka Puck Daddy), to write the best piece about the opportunity now presented to Team Canada goaltender and Vancouver Canucks captain, Roberto Luongo:
Luongo takes over for Martin Brodeur against Germany in the qualifying round on Tuesday, which is to say that that he’s earned a moment to attain something Brodeur’s had for 15 years: a legacy.
Is he ready?
This is Luongo’s moment. The moment he actually achieves the elite status that’s bestowed on him, sometimes begrudgingly, by the hockey world. The moment at which he becomes a clutch goalie in championship situations. The moment when Canada embraces him with the same cherished regard as it does Brodeur.
He doesn’t have to be perfect. He needs to be competent and timely, according to Coach Mike Babcock. “We’re in the winning business, winning a game at any level you need big saves,” he said. “You need momentum changing saves. And we’re looking for Loo to do that for us.”
Critics will question the decision to pull Brodeur, NHL career shutout leader, Stanley Cup champion, Olympic champion, and simply, one of the greatest goaltenders in the history of the game. He’s also 5-9-2 with a 2.93 GAA and 0.884 save percentage in the last month.
Critics will point to the fact that Luongo has never won anything. Neither had Dominik Hasek in 1998 and Henrik Lundqvist in 2006, and both led their teams to Olympic Gold.
For what it’s worth, Luongo enters tonight’s game with a 2-1 record in 3 previous games in the Olympics. He has a 1.01 GAA and a 0.947 save percentage in those 3 games. He beat tonight’s opponent, Germany, in Torino in 2006. It’s true that he doesn’t have the same experience or anywhere close to the same accomplishments than Brodeur, but at least from what we’ve seen of him in Olympic competition, Luongo has been able to perform competently. Maybe even more than competently.
Will that be enough for Team Canada to win Olympic Gold?
We sure hope so. We’ll see starting tonight.