I’m still scratching my head over Alain Vigneault’s decision to start Cory Schneider in game 6 over Roberto Luongo.
Yes, Luongo got shelled for 10 goals in games 4 and 5, but how do you blame him exclusively for those losses when the entire team in front of him didn’t show up?
Yet, that’s essentially what Vigneault did when he decided to give Cory Schneider his first career playoff start. In the most important game of the Canucks’ season at the Madhouse on Madison.
AV is known to say that he’ll play the players he thinks will give him the best chance to win. By starting Schneider over Luongo, he’s basically said that the Canucks can’t win with their former captain, their Olympic Gold Medal winner, and Vezina and Jennings Trophy winner.
And that’s not right.
Even with their losses in games 4 and 5, the Canucks still held a 3-2 series lead on the Blackhawks, a lead they built with Luongo in net when he won the first 3 games of this series. He was arguably the best player in a Canucks jersey in 2 of those games. He was easily the best Canuck in the first period of game 4 before the team’s collapse in the second period.
The Canucks may have had a tough time against the Blackhawks generally-speaking, but Luongo has actually played well at the Madhouse on Madison recently. Before allowing 6 goals on 28 shots in game 4, he’d won 2 of his last 3 starts there and had made 93 saves on 96 shots; going back to last year’s playoffs, he has a pretty darn good 4-1-1 record and 0.959 save percentage (188 saves on 196 shots) in his last 6 starts in Chicago.
Does this sound like a good reason to lose faith in your starting goaltender? And if you were Luongo, how would you react to the very real thinking that your coach had lost faith in you?
If the Canucks had won game 6 – and their first round series against the Chicago Blackhawks – perhaps AV would’ve looked like a genius for having the balls to start Schneider over Luongo.
Unfortunately, the Canucks did indeed lose, and now, I think I speak for a lot of Canucks fans when I ask, “Now what?
If AV didn’t think Luongo was good enough to beat Chicago just 24 hours ago, then how can he think he’s good enough to beat them tomorrow?