I’ll give Roberto Luongo credit – he accepted responsibility for his slow start last night.
“That’s probably the worst I’ve ever played in my career,” he said before rebounding to help backstop a dramatic 6-4 third-period comeback victory over the Colorado Avalanche to keep the club atop the Northwest Division.
“It was pretty bad, but I’m pretty happy with myself and I battled back and stayed with it. I could have put my head down and not come out in the second, but I came back and made some saves and the guys scored some big goals. At the end of the day I’m disappointed, but happy with myself in the way I battled back.”
The result was (another) come-from-behind win – the Canucks’ 10th win when trailing after two periods this season – and an 8-5 record on this road trip.
Regardless of Luongo’s performance, Andrew Raycroft will get the start in Phoenix tonight.
Well before being ventilated by three goals on the first 10 shots he faced Tuesday, logic seemed to dictate that Roberto Luongo should take tonight off in Phoenix and rest up for back-to-back weekend games at GM Place. Pressed on the issue following his morning session with goalie consultant Ian Clark, the starter didn’t have an answer to the theory. A 6-4 comeback win over the Colorado Avalanche would indicate he could have redeemed himself further against the Coyotes or make room for backup Andrew Raycroft. The latter makes more sense. There was much amiss about Luongo’s start against the Avs to suggest that inconsistency could be a product of fatigue or a lack of confidence. After a 40-minute session with Clark, the starter was talking of what it meant to get back to basics and prep for the stretch drive. “It’s good to get that positive re-enforcement and work on basics a bit,” he said. “The better you feel about your technical game, the more confident you feel on the ice and the better you play.”
Since starting for Team Canada against Germany in the Olympic Qualification round, Luongo has played 8 games in 14 days. 4 of those games carried enormous pressure and expectations. I’m not making excuses for Luongo, though I kinda understand how he’s looked less Luon-Godly this past week.
His statistics since the Olympics aren’t great (4 GP, 4.20 GAA and 0.869 save percentage) except where it counts – in the win column. He won 3 of the 4 games he started, and overall, the Canucks have won 4 of 5 games in the latter portion of this road trip.
That said, it makes perfect sense to start Raycroft tonight. Even in his wildest dreams, I don’t think Raycroft himself expected to appear in half of the games during this road trip, but tonight will be appearance no. 7. In the 6 games he’s played, his numbers are quite respectable (3-1 record, 2.23 GAA, 0.915 save percentage). Raycroft starting also gives Luongo 3 days off before the Canucks return home to play the Ottawa Senators at GM Place on Saturday.
More from Luongo:
“Sometimes it’s just mental,” shrugged Luongo. “I did not feel in my element at all to start the game and I don’t know why. Sometimes those things happen and sometimes you have to fight through things.”
Here’s the hoping the rest will do him good.