There’s nothing like a week in Toronto to gain some perspective on the Vancouver Canucks’ goaltending tandem.
On Tuesday, I saw Jonas Gustavsson start for the Leafs and allow 3 goals on 12 shots – all 3 goals by the 37-second mark of the second period – before getting replaced by Jussi Rynas. This would be Rynas’ first NHL game after splitting the season between the AHL’s Toronto Marlies and ECHL’s Reading Royals.
Two nights later, Rynas would make his first NHL start against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers welcomed Rynas by putting 7 goals past him in a 7-1 shellacking of the Leafs.
Back here on the West Coast, the Canucks are on a nice, little roll with 6 straight wins and having earned points in their last 7 games. And despite being among the lower scoring teams in the league in the latter half of this season, they’re back on top of the Western Conference.
Needless to say, Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider have both been a big part of the Canucks’ success, but you can’t tell based on some of the reaction to every goal they allow.
On Saturday night against the Flames, Luongo was beaten by Olli Jokinen’s off-speed shot during a Flames powerplay; predictably, the Luongo haters came out of the woodwork calling for his head. It didn’t get any better when Mike Cammalleri beat him early in the third period with a howitzer from the point, a shot which even former players say wouldn’t have been stopped by any goaltender.
Never mind that Luo had stopped 70 consecutive shots before Jokinen’s goal. Never mind that he had gone almost 120 minutes – the equivalent of almost two complete games – of shutting out the opposition. Never mind that he has a .964 save percentage in his last 3 wins.
Facts be damned.
This isn’t to say that Schneider hasn’t been good; he has. Rightfully, Team Schneider likes to point out that his GAA and save percentage are better than Luongo’s – this is a fair point.
But it’s equally noteworthy that, with his win on Saturday, Luongo has hit the 30-win plateau for the seventh consecutive season. And for all the grief Luongo takes for “not being able to win the big one”, remember it was Luongo in net for all of the Canucks’ 15 playoff wins last season and that since the lockout, only one goaltender – Marc-Andre Fleury – has more playoff wins than Luo.
We could go back and forth on this for a long time so here are some other, simpler numbers for you: with both Luo and Schneider in net, the Canucks have 49 wins and 107 points. They’re tied with the New York Rangers for most points in the entire NHL.
With the playoffs just a little over a week away, I’m finding the Team Luongo vs. Team Schneider schtick getting old. Can we just appreciate the fact that our team has TWO bonafide, NHL goaltenders? Instead of cheering for Team Luongo or Team Schneider, can’t we simply cheer for Team Canucks?
It’s a novel concept, I know. But think of it this way… It could be worse. We could be cheering for the Leafs.
From the same creator of “The Ironing is Delicious” comes this two-part sequel:
Poke the Bear, part 1:
Poke the Bear, part 2:
Hilarious as usual.