Nov 232011
 

In life, perception is everything. Sometimes, this perception lasts forever; other times, it changes in an instant. Often, one’s perception of the same event is different from another’s.

For some, the hot girl you meet at the bar is your soul mate, regardless of her bitchy and pretentious attitude. For others, she’s only attractive until she opens her mouth. Or the beer goggles wear off.

It’s not much different in hockey.

At one point, Roberto Luongo was the Canucks’ saviour. It started in his first year with the organization when he played in 76 games and posted 47 wins in the regular season, and then taking a team that couldn’t score at the Roxy surrounded by puck bunnies – they finished 21st in the NHL in scoring – to a seven-game first round playoff series win against the Dallas Stars.

Over the years, Luongo has set the franchise record for wins in a season (47) – he also own 5 of the next 6 highest season win totals in franchise history – the single-season franchise records for goals-against average (2.11), save percentage (0.928) and shutouts (9). He’s won the second-highest number of games in a Canucks jersey (193), 18 wins behind Kirk McLean while playing in 185 less games, and owns the career franchise records for goals-against average (2.28), save percentage (0.919) and shutouts (28). He’s recorded the second-most number of playoff wins in the NHL since the lockout (32) and has taken the Canucks as close to the Stanley Cup as the more revered Kirk McLean and Richard Brodeur did.

These days, Luongo is “7uongo” as much as he is “Luongod”.

So what’s changed?

OCTOBERGPRECORDGAASV%NOVEMBERGPRECORDGAASV%
2006127-4-12.140.9232006135-8-02.710.896
2007114-7-02.910.9032007128-2-21.560.940
2008106-4-02.980.902200895-1-21.220.959
2009126-6-02.790.902200984-4-02.230.923
201072-3-22.930.9072010117-4-02.570.914
201173-3-13.540.869201164-2-02.300.924

According to the numbers, not much has changed since Luongo’s first year with the Canucks. As predictable as the leafs (or Leafs) fall at this time of the year, he had a rough start to the season. Yes, his GAA and save percentage this October were worse than in previous years; but by the end of it, he had more wins this October than last, playing in a same number of games. Also as predictable, he started playing better as soon as November came; and in fact, until his injury he was on pace to better his November numbers from last year.

The same seems to hold true for the team.

AFTER 20 GAMESRECORDPOINTSGFGAPPPK
2006/20079-10-1192.352.5512.4%87.1%
2007/200810-8-2222.752.6520.8%78.0%
2008/200912-6-2263.102.3517.0%80.4%
2009/201010-10-0202.602.7523.5%78.5%
2010/201110-6-3232.902.7027.0%87.2%
2011/201210-9-1212.902.8026.7%85.4%

Since the summer, we’ve heard talk of the Stanley Cup hangover. And when the Canucks didn’t exactly tear it up in the first quarter of the season, fans naturally blamed it on Luongo the fact that the team had a short off-season.

But again, look at the numbers. Was the Canucks’ start this season really that much worse than any of the previous in the Luongo era? After 20 games, they’re scoring the same number of goals and allowing about the same number of goals against as last year. Their powerplay is as lethal as last year and they’ve only allowed 2 more goals short-handed this year than last year. Most importantly, they are only 2 points off last year’s totals after the same number of games.

Now, this isn’t to say that either the Luongo or the Canucks have otherwise been great because they obviously have some work to do to catch up to teams like the Oilers and the Wild. If anything, the first quarter of the season for the team have proven to be more of the same old same old. Perhaps driven by expectations, the only difference is the way we see them now.

Around this time last year, the Canucks went on a tear to move up the standings and eventually win the President’s Trophy. We’ll see if, like last year, they snap out of their fall funk and do the same this year. We sure hope they do.

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