Photo credit: cbc.ca
As I’m writing this, the Canucks still haven’t announced their starting goaltender for tonight’s match-up against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Perhaps coach Alain Vigneault lost his mythical coin. Or maybe he’s busy throwing darts at a dart board to select his new shootout lineup.
Or maybe, just maybe, the performances by both Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo to-date this season has thrown a wrinkle into his plans.
If we’ve learned anything through the first one-third of the shortened season, the Canucks’ goaltending hierarchy seems less clear. If Schneider – and his agent – expected to start 75% of the Canucks games, that plan hasn’t materialized yet. So far, both Schneider and Luongo have evenly-split the number of starts through the first 14 games of the season.
What is clearer, however, is whose numbers are better.
Luongo has been able to get the Canucks points in every one of his 7 starts. As he’s done throughout his career, he’s performed consistently and has a 4-0-3 record with all 3 losses coming in the shootout. He also has a 0.934 save percentage (6th in the NHL) and a 1.63 GAA (3rd in the NHL). His loss against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday was only the first time this season he’s allowed more than 2 goals in a game.
In the meantime, Schneider has a 4-3-0 record in his 7 starts, and has a 0.912 save percentage and 2.62 GAA. He’s been maddeningly inconsistent – good in wins and not so much in losses. He got shelled for 5 goals against the Anaheim Ducks on opening night before bouncing back against the Calgary Flames. He shut out the Ducks after the win against the Flames, but followed that up by being shelled for 4 goals against the San Jose Sharks. Against the Dallas Stars on Friday night, Schneider allowed 4 goals against in a 4-3 loss, the third time in 7 starts he’s allowed at least 4 goals against in a game. The Canucks gave him the ball early on, but he hasn’t quite run away with it yet.
Schneider has also enjoyed the benefit of receiving more offensive support. With him in net, the Canucks have scored 22 goals (3.14 goals per game). With Luongo in net, the Canucks have only scored 16 goals (2.28 goals per game).
In the shootout, Luongo has actually been decent. He’s been in 4 shootouts, and except for his Oshie-t moment on Sunday, he’s been able to stop about 65% of the shootout attempts against him, which seems to be the league average. And in those 4 shootouts, a grand total of one Canuck scored on their attempt – Jordan Schroeder, who was the 4th shooter in the Canucks’ 2-1 win against tonight’s opponent, the Blackhawks. Only once in those 4 games did Luongo allow more than 1 shootout goal; he allowed 2 on Sunday against the Blues.
This doesn’t, by any stretch, imply that Schneider is not a good goalie because I think he is. I simply think that Luongo is outplaying him right now. And if the Canucks go by merit in selecting tonight’s starter, it should be Lu.