Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com
In just about any other hockey market, it’d be an easy choice. But this is Vancouver, so of course every decision has to be deliberated and scrutinized.
Who would you start? Roberto Luongo or Cory Schneider?
At first look, it’s Cory Schneider and it’s not even close. He’s got the hot hand, pocketing consecutive shutouts and surrendering just a single goal in the last three games. Based on those feats alone, Schneider should be rewarded for his stellar play. The old saying is that you go with the goalie that gives you the best chance to win, and Schneider is that goalie right now.
To enhance that point, Alain Vigneault has always been the type of coach who will tell his players that hard work and good play doesn’t go unrewarded. If you’re playing well on any given night, you could find yourself with increased ice time and a chance to shine. By that logic, why should the goalies be any exception? What kind of message would Vigneault be sending the rest of his team if he doesn’t start Schneider against San Jose?
If Roberto Luongo is indeed a team player, he’ll let Schneider between the pipes.
And now let’s go to the pro-Luongo side of the spectrum. First, let’s look at Schneider’s last three outings; in his 2-1 victory over the Senators and shutout victories against the Avalanche and Coyotes, the back-up wasn’t nearly tested as often as his counterparts in those games. In all honestly, if the plan all along was for the Canucks to showcase Schneider to the rest of the NHL, they’re doing a damn good job of it.
I’m not trying to take anything away from Schneider’s three victories. But they were easy wins against teams that are 13th in the Eastern Conference (Ottawa), and 12th and 9th in the West (Colorado and Phoenix). None are good bets to crack the postseason.
At the end of the day, I’m just thankful I’m not Alain Vigneault making these decisions. It’s almost a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation; he can’t win with the fans no matter who he decides to go with.
Like I said, it’s an easy choice. But in Vancouver, nothing ever comes easy.