Photo credit: Vancouver Sun
A few weeks ago, the very thought that Roberto Luongo could be traded by next week’s trade deadline scared many fans. The Canucks were in a slump, having won just 3 of their 11 games, and in part because their $9.3 million goaltending duo of Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo were battling inconsistency between the pipes. At that time, neither Schneider or Luongo had taken the reigns of the team’s no. 1 goaltending spot. Regardless of their play, on some level, having both in the lineup perhaps provided a sense of safety in numbers.
Before the Canucks’ current 5-game win streak, Schneider, specifically, was struggling. His timing was off and he seemed out of position at times. For a one-month stretch between February 15 and March 19, he was a rather pedestrian 2-3-3 with a 2.82 GAA and a 0.902 save percentage. And let’s not even get into his puckhandling adventures. Obviously, the Canucks’ struggles weren’t all his fault – he wasn’t getting much support from his defense and the team continues to struggle to score – but for that stretch, it seemed like he couldn’t make the big save when the Canucks needed him to, and that had Canucks fans a bit spooked.
Now, that sense of fear appears to have dissipated.
Going into tonight’s game against the last place Colorado Avalanche, Schneider, who will make his 6th consecutive start, is playing his best hockey of the season. He’s won his last 5 starts, which coincides with the Canucks’ 5-game win steak, and has a 0.98 GAA, a 0.962 save percentage and 2 shutouts in those games. Quickly, he’s worked his way back to more expected numbers, and for the season, he now has an 11-5-3 record with a 2.19 GAA (9th in the NHL), a 0.923 save percentage (3rd in the NHL), and 3 shutouts (4th in the NHL).
There will be very little room for error for Schneider if the much-anticipate Luongo trade occurs before the trade deadline. But it’s a great sign to finally see him settle in his role, and certainly, his play is helping alleviate fans’ fears of moving forward with him as the Canucks’ starting goaltender.
18-9-6, 42 points (2nd in the Northwest Division, 4th in the Western Conference)
The Canucks won the most recent meeting last Sunday. The Avs have actually had a dreadful month of March with only 3 wins in 12 games (3-8-1). They’re winless in their last 10 road games (0-7-3) and are dead last in the Western Conference. With 16 games to go, they’re still 10 points out of a playoff spot.
PA Parenteau is on a 3-game point streak (2G-3A-5P). He leads the Avs in goals (14) and points (33).
Milan Hejduk has just 2 points in his last 8 games. Usually a big part of the Avs offense – he’s averaged 25 goals in his past 6 seasons – he’s had trouble finding the net and has just 4 goals and 7 assists in 25 games.