Mar 042014


Eddie Lack and Roberto Luongo after the 2nd period

Eddie Lack and Roberto Luongo after the 2nd period

Much has been made of Roberto Luongo’s plight here in Vancouver in recent years.  Starting with the Stanley Cup Finals in June 2011, it’s been two and a half years of turmoil, tension, and drama.

The Luongo saga took yet another fascinating turn this past weekend when Eddie Lack was named the starter for Sunday’s Heritage Classic game at BC Place versus the Ottawa Senators.

Lack played the first game coming out of the Olympic break, shutting out the St. Louis Blues 1-0 on Wednesday night.  Made sense given that Luongo returned to Vancouver from Sochi just a couple of days prior.

Lack was also given the next start, a tight 2-1 shoot-out loss to the Minnesota Wild.  Although Lack played very well, the loss – albeit a close one – opened the door for a Luongo start on Sunday.

As word broke on Saturday that Luongo would not be starting, Twitter erupted with people arguing both sides.

For what it’s worth, I tweeted:  “Backup goalie is supposed to play well (which Lack has) and ensure no significant drop off. Lack has done his job, let Lu do his tomorrow.”

Many people cited Lack’s strong play of late as giving the Canucks the best chance to win.  And I get that we’re in a dog fight to make the playoffs.

I said it before the game and I’ve said it since: the Canucks needed to look at the “bigger picture” here.  The bigger picture to me says that Luongo was not treated fairly last year (losing his job to Schneider before watching Schneider – and not him – get traded) and was deserving of the Heritage Classic start.  This doesn’t have anything to do with emotions; Luongo’s last start was a solid shutout victory in the Olympics.

And just as there was no drop-off going from Luongo to Lack, there certainly was no drop-off going from Lack to Luongo.  Luongo needed to start.  Truthfully, I would be saying the same thing if the Canucks had won the game, or even if Lack had pitched another shutout.

So there I was on Sunday afternoon with my son Sean, soaking in the sights and sounds of the world’s largest indoor hockey game.   I was able to snap some pretty good pictures (see them all here) including one of poor Roberto Luongo sitting on his own at the end of the bench.

Lonely Luongo

Lonely Luongo

After Ottawa took a 3-2 lead in the second period, an audible “We Want Lu!” chant broke out in the stadium.  It was quite a surreal moment, magnified by the fact that there were 35,000 more fans than usual watching the game live and millions watching on TV across the country.  It was a tense and awkward few seconds.

It reminded me of the feeling that I got watching the first game of the lockout-shortened 2013 season.  In the home opener on January 19, 2013, Cory Schneider got the start as the newly-anointed starting Canucks goalie.  The Canucks lost that game 7-3 to the visiting Anaheim Ducks, and Schneider was pulled early in the second period after allowing 5 goals on only 14 shots, including goals on 3 straight shots.

I vividly remember the mood in the crowd that evening:  the fans were desperate for hockey and excited to see the Canucks back in action.  But as each shot got past Schneider, the mood in the building became more and more tense, culminating in a tense buzz as Luongo skated out to replace Schneider (start at the 2:23 mark in the video below).

The same sort of tense buzz I felt at the Heritage Classic this past weekend.  And as you’ll hear my friend Mike exclaim in my Clay’s Canucks Commentary at the 2:53 mark:



Jan 272014


Vancouver Canucks (27-17-9)
Edmonton Oilers (16-32-6)

For the fourth time this season, and the second time in just six days, the Vancouver Canucks take on the Edmonton Oilers. The Canucks won all three previous games (6-2, 4-0 and most recently, 2-1).

After Sunday’s 5-4 overtime win for the Canucks, they’re looking to keep the momentum going and start a new winning steak. However, the Oilers are looking to start a new winning streak of their own. On Sunday, the Oilers ended a six-game winless streak as they beat the Nashville Predators 5-1.

Who’s Hot

As we all know, the Vancouver Canucks have experienced trouble scoring goals lately, but they sure didn’t have any problem on Sunday.

Kevin Bieksa scored twice, including the game winner in overtime, to lift the Canucks to a 5-4 victory over the Coyotes.

Chris Higgins helped lift the Canucks to a 5-4 victory with one goal and two assist. He now has two goals and two assist in the past two games.

For the Oilers, Jordan Eberle extended his point streak to five games on Sunday (four goals, two assist).

Who’s Out

Henrik Sedin (ribs) is still day-to-day. Forward Mike Santorelli (shoulder) and defenseman Andrew Alberts (concussion) are on injured reserve. Jordan Schroeder, who has missed most of the season with an ankle injury, will not play tonight, but did start his conditioning assignment with the Utica Comets.

The Oilers are likely without defensemen Philip Larsen (illness) Andrew Ference (upper body), along with forward Ales Hemsky (ankle).

Oct 112012


On the day that the Vancouver Canucks were supposed to open their 2012-13 regular season in Calgary against the Flames, I check in with another two Canucks fans about their favourite and not-so-favourite players, preferred dinner guests and of course, the lockout.

Crystal (@iam_canuck) was born in Abbotsford, BC, and has hop-skipped around the western provinces (except Alberta) before settling where she currently resides in Winnipeg, MB.  She lives with her parents, sister, and her equally Canucks-crazed brother.  She started watching hockey in February 2010 (during the Vancouver Olympics!), and latched on to the Canucks since she was living in BC at the time.  Her secondary love is basketball and she has played it for longer than she can remember.  She’s living her dream of playing at the university level right now at Providence University College.  While playing ball, she’s studying Communications and Media and hopes to someday work in sports journalism or reporting (she would love to take over Derek Jory’s job).  Her other interests include rockin’ out to country music, hanging out with friends, and watching movies.

Dan (@vancitydan) is currently between professions, and open to new opportunities.  Born in Calgary, he moved to BC before four, and feels homesick without the purple mountains’ majesty about.  Having been schooled mainly in the classroom of life, Dan has worked in a variety of businesses as a manager, and truly enjoys helping people.  A lifelong photographer who went from making his living as one to being part of a team of professionals helping movie makers realize their creative visions.  While he first hit the ice in full Bobby Orr regalia at age four, Dan has been a Canuck fan since three years later, when the team joined the NHL in 1970.  He fully agrees that Dale Tallon got unfairly compared to Perreault, loved how Andre Boudria played, and still cannot fully understand how Vladimir Krutov went from one of the best power forwards in the world to a cautionary tale for overeating in one year.  Vive le Vancouver restaurants!  Currently one part of the team of many fine writers at

1. Who is your favourite current Canuck and why?

Crystal:  I have struggled with this question forever.  When people ask me this, I usually rattle off my top 5 or 6, simply because I love them all.  But since I have to narrow it down, I tend to be drawn not only to the best players on the ice, but the guys with awesome personalities off the ice as well.  Having said that, Cory Schneider, Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler are the main guys that spring to my mind.  Watching these guys do interviews are some of the most entertaining, hilarious moments of the season for me.

Dan:  My favourite Canuck is Kevin Bieksa both for his style of play and his talent, and because he’s one of the most community-oriented guys on the team. Plus, come on:  he is obviously one of the funniest and toughest guys on the team, no matter what that punk Vern Fiddler says!

2. Which Canuck would you not miss if he wasn’t on the team? Why?

Crystal:  Dale Weise.  Hands down.  It’s not that I hate the guy; it’s just that I like him the least.  Okay, I kinda hate him.  It’s mainly because back when he had his Twitter (and wasn’t using it wisely), I made a harmless comment about him doing so.  He responded not-so-nicely to me.  Ever since then, I haven’t been so fond of #32.  There’s also the question of production for Weise.  He’s never been a prominent player.  Not even close to prominent actually.  He’s been… present.  That’s all I can say for him.

Dan:  I don’t want to answer that question, as it will make the guy I pick feel bad.  You have Mason Raymond who falls down too much and Keith Ballard who isn’t worth his cap hit.  I do think that Ballard would be better on another team where he would have more opportunity.  So, if I had to answer (and it sounds like I do), I would say Ballard should be traded somewhere where he’d get more ice time.

3. Who would you rather have dinner with: Alain Vigneault or Mike Gillis? Why?

Crystal:  Alain Vigneault.  I want to see if he chews gum throughout dinner as well.  No, seriously I’d like to pick his brain!  Last year the team had a lot of different line combinations (most of which didn’t work), so I want to hear the logic behind that from the man himself!  I also just would like to get to know him.  I feel like we know tons about the players, their families, etc., but AV is kind of in the background.  He’s a really funny guy who I think would be entertaining to talk to!  I also want to find out if he can impersonate Cory Schneider as well as Cory can impersonate him.

Dan:  Alain Vigneault.  Though I would enjoy hearing about the travails of coaching the team, I am almost as interested in hearing about his time as “Bam Bam” as a St Louis Blue.  As well, I want to hear what it’s like to have millions of British Columbians “couch coaching” your every move.

4. What’s your general mood with respect to the NHL lockout?

Crystal:  The regular season is supposed to be starting today, which really made me think (and cry).  I should be donning my jersey, getting super pumped for my Canucks to pummel the Calgary fLames on opening night in their arena.  But I’m not.  Which is sad, because all summer I was literally counting down the days to October 11.  One of the things I hate the most about this situation is the fact that the Canucks were supposed to be coming to Winnipeg on February 9, and my brother and I were going to go.  Now we can’t.  Stupid lockout.

Dan:  A growing indifference, tinged with the realization that I would probably come running back!  The NHL knows they have Canadians in their back pocket.  I do feel that even this Canadian is reaching his breaking point if there is some foolish reason for no season.  Grow up Gary!

5. What’s your prediction of the date of the next NHL regular season game?

Crystal:  Being the positive person I am, I don’t really want to say that I don’t think there will be a season at all this year.  So I won’t.  I’m hoping for a October 25 start, although you and I both know that won’t happen.  At the rate the NHL/NHLPA talks are going, I think the most realistic goal, as the great Wayne Gretzky has already predicted, is for the Winter Classic on January 1.  Until then, I guess I have evenings free to do schoolwork.  Ugh.

Dan:  Late November or early December.  The Winter Classic will be the impetus for a deal.  So, when the Canucks win the Cup next summer, the haters will talk about how it deserves an asterisk.  #EmbraceTheHate!

Oct 022012


We’re two weeks into the NHL lockout so I decided to check in with another two Canucks fans about their feelings, their frustrations, and their outlook.

Erica (@_EricaDawn) only acknowledges two seasons and is lucky enough to experience both in British Columbia:  hockey and summer.  Erica was born in Langley, raised throughout the Lower Mainland and currently resides in Coquitlam.  She has an education in hospitality management, a job as a food and beverage department supervisor, a passion for hockey and travel, and a love for her Boston Terrier fur-baby Cali (named after her favorite place to be…California!). She travels down to California to watch the boys in white take on the three local teams.  Her top three not so best kept secrets would be her love for Halloween, her love for Disney, and her love for Ryan Kesler.


Mitch (@Mitch_SBMedia) was born in Lethbridge, Alberta, but don’t hold that against him. He moved to BC at the age of two and ever since he can remember, he’s lived and died by the Vancouver Canucks.  He studied audio engineering which in his words was “a colossal waste of time and money”.  Currently Mitch finds himself as a production and logistics coordinator in his home town of Coquitlam.  A devoted partner to his lovely girlfriend of eight years and father of two, Mitch is already well on his way to being a hockey dad.  As a matter of fact, he recently assaulted another parent in the parking lot after his four-year old sons’ “refresher” hockey class.  When pressed on the subject all he could say was “It’s an ongoing investigation, but I think if you know me, you know I’ll do a three or four year bid just to prove a point.”  When he’s not watching hockey or playing it, his time is spent with his girlfriend and kids. Mitch also blogs about hockey for Northwest Sports Beat, Rob the Hockey Guy and Nucks Misconduct. He’s also a member of the secret order of the Stonecutters.

Continue reading »

Apr 052012

Chris' Beard by Round 4

Coffee, Beer, and Playoff Hockey Make Beards Grow

With only a few games left in the 2011/12 NHL Regular Season, you know it’s only a matter of time until you begin to see how the more passionate hockey fans separate themselves from the crowd. That’s right – it’s playoff beard time!

Last year, the Canucks Hockey Blog Playoff Beard Challenge was a phenomenal success! Not only did we help raise money for a wicked cause through the NHLPA Beard-a-thon, our facial hair helped the boys in blue come within one game of the actual Stanley Cup (give or take obviously). One game! So being the superstitious folk we are, we knew there was only one thing for us to do this week – announce the Canucks 2012 Playoff Beard Challenge!

To participate, simply take a picture of your beard from Day 1 through to the end of the Canucks playoff run and share it with the world. But what’s the best way to share you ask? By joining and/or supporting the official CHB Beard-a-thon team!

For those not aware, the NHLPA Beard-a-thon raised nearly $200,000 for the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada. And why the Heart & Stroke Foundation?

The Heart and Stroke Foundation is dedicated to giving Canadians longer, fuller lives because heart disease and stroke take 1 in 3 Canadians too soon and it is the #1 killer of women. Donations fuel research, health education and social change to improve heart health for all Canadians. The Foundation is dedicated to funding innovative research and medical breakthroughs, including funding studies into women and heart disease, the risk factors for different ethnicities, children’s health and adults dealing with congenital heart defects.

Pretty awesome charity to support if you ask me. And because we’re supporting a great cause, we want to do it the right way:

The Rules of the 2012 Canucks Playoff Beard Challenge:

  1. You don’t talk about Beard Club.. err.. the Challenge.
  2. You don’t talk about Beard Club.
  3. If you can’t do the beard, commit to something and stick to it (special ritual, personal habit, etc.). We here at the Challenge do not discriminate against those who can’t/don’t/won’t grow facial hair. We’ll even accept virtual beards for the folicly challenged.
  4. A beard is a beard is a beard. Goatees and mustaches are fakes.
  5. Your last shave takes place the morning of April 8th the first game (updated to conform with the Beardathon rules).

Once you’re in, you’re in. Unless you’re not. We’re not that hardcore. But keep in mind the idea of a playoff challenge is to keep it going – and Lord knows we’ll make you feel shame should something untoward happen to the Canucks in the post-season AFTER you quit. And in just in case it comes up, the wishes of your significant other do not trump Beard Club. In fact, you should encourage him/her/it to heed the call to challenge and join up.

So do you have what it takes? Do ya, punk?

Apr 032012
Alain is not Amused

Rioting is no giggling matter.

I’ve always thought AV was a funny guy. A little dry wit at appropriate times, usually at the expense of local media but still, while he maintained that stoneface for many of his early Canucks years, this year in particular he’s really lightened up. I don’t think I need to remind any Canucks fans of his uncontrollable giggle-fits as Vernon Fiddler did his best Kevin Bieksa impression. Seems it doesn’t take much to give Coach V an attack of the funnies.

On the other hand, AV does not find wrecking Vancouver very funny…so don’t do it or he’ll bag skate you til next playoffs.

Mar 302012

When Zack Kassian arrived in Vancouver, one of the first words out of his mouth was the following:

They’ve got a great team here, and I’m just going to try to be a small piece in a big puzzle.

Oh Zack, we all know that’s not going to be possible in this hockey fishbowl.

Since he arrived on the scene, fans have been watching closely, scrutinizing and analyzing every little detail of his game. There have been bright moments, like his first three games as a Canuck, where he combined for 16 hits, a goal, and an assist. His fight with Brad Staubitz against Montreal and his skirmish with Duncan Keith in Chicago also stand out.

There are the naysayers, too. On some nights, Kassian has been stapled to the bench during crucial moments. Part of that has to do with Alain Vigneault’s unwillingness to play young players when the game’s on the line, and part of it has to do with Kassian’s play has been somewhat inconsistent.

On occasion, he has that gusto where he looks like he’ll take a player’s head off. On others, he’s losing puck battles in corners and slower than Steve Bernier.

But perhaps one of the most underrated aspects of Zack Kassian’s game is the intimidation factor he has when he’s on the ice. He has a presence, one which the team cannot say they boasted before.

When Kassian is on the ice, opponents are aware of it. Put together on a line with Mason Raymond and Henrik Sedin, neither player gets bogged down in a post-whistle scrum when Kassian is out there. If either Raymond or Sedin gets shoved around, Kassian enters the scrum and all of a sudden it gets dead quiet. Everyone shuts up and moves along.

That can be a very powerful weapon in the playoffs.

Against Chicago, Kassian challenged every single Blackhawk on the ice, and no one wanted to drop the gloves. That’s the kind of power and intimidation very few teams can buy. Kassian is feared, and in the playoffs, he can provide the kind of spark the Canucks will need when the going gets tough.

So don’t just take notice of what Kassian is doing in the game. Notice his game within the game, because that can be equally important.

Mar 302012

[Every week, Clayton Imoo sits down and talks hockey with a CHB follower and fellow fan. If you're interested in being featured in "Shooting from the Hip", send us a tweet at @canuckshockey or @CanuckClay.]

Your favourite “get-to-know-someone” blog is back and on its brand new day of Friday!  I was away in LA last week and earlier this week I severed a tendon in my middle finger of my left hand.  But don’t worry…I’m playing hurt just for you:  the loyal CHB readers.

This week I chat with Arielle Tuliao.  I met Arielle…get this…through the internet.  Our mutual love of music and the Canucks actually brought us together through a mutual friend and the rest, as they say, is history.  We’ve collabed (a fancy word for collaborated) on three songs that you can see on her YouTube channel.

In her own words:

Arielle Tuliao (@ajtuliao) is a local award-winning singer and actress whose humble beginnings include singing along to The Little Mermaid daily as a little girl. After performing and competing all through high school, including a trip to Toronto for Canadian Idol, she took a break to focus on acting. She is a graduate of Vancouver Film School’s Acting for Film and Television program, which also included a Singing course to satiate her musical needs.

Her love for the Canucks is just as strong as her love for performing; in fact, she hopes to one day sing the national anthems at a home game… preferably when Buffalo or Pittsburgh is in town. She is currently pursuing a career in Film and Television, while filming covers and vlogs for her “2012 YOUTUBE PROJECT” which can be found here.

1. I was blessed to be part of your recent YouTube Project where you sang a month of Disney songs.  Where did your love for Disney and in particular Disney princesses come from?

As a kid I was never interested in anything but cartoons, and I fortuitously grew up during the Disney Renaissance. When other kids and teens were watching Star Wars or E.T., I was (I hate to admit) repeatedly watching The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Pocahontas. If it wasn’t a cartoon, I wasn’t interested. It was impossible for me not to fall in love with Disney.

My love for Disney Princesses actually surfaced a few years ago when Disney introduced their Disney Princess line. Little girls grow up with a favourite princess; I never had to pick one because I shared my name with one. However, at Christmastime when the Disney store had their beautiful display set up, my cousins and I bought dolls for each other. It’s become a tradition ever since. That is really what sparked my love for Disney Princesses.

2. Talk about your inspiration for your “Dear Cody” hit on YouTube.  How long have you liked him?  What were your emotions when he was traded?  Do you still follow him now that he’s on the Sabres?

On February 17, the Vancouver Canucks tweeted “Tomorrow, Cody Hodgson is celebrating a birthday… if you were to give Cody a gift, what would you give him?” and just for fun, I tweeted, “I would write him a country song, and call it ‘Dear Cody’.” It was just a joke… until I realized I could actually do it. Next thing I knew I was playing chords and singing lyrics while thinking, “Don’t be a puckbunny. Don’t be a puckbunny.” Nothing about the final result is edited, really. What I sang in that moment of inspiration is what stuck; the song practically wrote itself.

Now, define ‘like,’ as I must insist that I am not an obsessive CoHo fan who makes gifs of him while professing eternal adoration to a guy I don’t even know. I’m not like that. Then again, I did write a song for the guy.

I’ve always known about him, in this town it was impossible not to, but I began to notice him last season during the playoffs. I was always impressed with his play; he was fast, skilled, and most importantly, smart. When he made the team, I remember saying to myself, “Good for him.” He never really stood out for me at that time, but when he was on the ice I never fretted. In my head, I already knew he was good, and that he was going to be great.

Then one day I was contemplating buying a jersey with my favourite player’s name on the back; that’s when I realized Cody had actually tied Kesler in my books. Then I really started watching him. Coincidentally enough, that was his fantastic January. I will never, ever forget his goal against Boston. Whaddabeauty.

As for ‘liking’ him, I suppose it was all the interviews. (My goodness I hope he never reads this) I don’t know if anyone else thinks so, but Cody has a fantastic smile. Behind that smile is a really cool, calm, down-to-earth young man who seems very responsible and very levelheaded. He isn’t trying to be anything he’s not, and I really admire that, especially since he’s still so young. I just think I would enjoy his company; not because he’s going to be a superstar, but because he seems like a genuinely good person.

When he was traded, I was distraught, shocked, and appalled, just like every other Canuck fan. I had just come back to work from a fantastic audition when my friend tweeted me “I’m sorry about Cody.” I actually replied with, “What do you mean?” because I had completely forgotten about the trade deadline, as nothing had happened until that moment. Listening to Team1040 helped a lot, plus the fact that I trust Gillis to make the right decisions for the team. He hasn’t to let me down, and so far I’ve yet to find reason to distrust him in regards to the trade.

Now that Cody’s in Buffalo, I pay a bit more attention to the Sabres news. Who am I kidding, I pay a LOT more attention. I’ve always been a big fan of Miller, and Ehrhoff is over there as well (though out indefinitely – get well soon Ehrhoff!), plus they’re playing fantastically and kicked Washington’s butt, so why not, right? To be honest, though, I don’t think I’d be paying as much attention as I am had it not been for the positive responses from Buffalo fans on my “Dear Cody” video. One of them even made me a t-shirt design based on something I said in a follow-up video, which I fully intend on having printed.

3. Are you ok with the way the Canucks have been winning recently (extremely low scoring games that aren’t the most exciting contests)?  Do you anticipate them to continue playing this way into the playoffs?

I can’t say I’m particularly happy with the way we’ve been winning, but a win is a win. I’d rather us go into the playoffs winning than losing. Yes, they’ve been low scoring; yes, they’ve been pretty dull; but sometimes I feel that we as an audience forget that it’s a game, not a reality TV show. If we’re winning, I won’t complain about how it gets done as long as we play the whole 60 minutes (or more, if need be). Thank God for Bobby Lou and Schneider, though.

Now let’s be honest. Last regular season was all business, and this regular season was “get to the playoffs”. This team has been waiting for the playoffs all season; you could feel it since Game 1. When it starts in two weeks, I think the boys will up their game. I have this strange feeling that their motto this year, whether or not they say it aloud, will not be, “One Game At A Time;” it’ll be, “Win.”

4. Just over a week away from the end of the regular season, who do you think the Canucks’ first round opponent will be?  Do you think this year’s team has the potential to win the Stanley Cup?

I honestly don’t know who it will be. The Pacific Division Battle is so tight, and the hate for the Canucks is so high, that I’m sure whoever it will be will come at us like a full-speed train.

First, will it be the Kings? I know we split the series 2-2, but had Lou not been fantastic on Monday night, the series could very well have been 3-1 Kings. Or perhaps the Sharks, you know, the team the stanchion beat during the Western Conference Finals? I can see their mouths watering for a rematch from miles away. Or will it be the Coyotes, the team we always seem to underestimate? With no shootout in the playoffs, we might get exhausted from all the overtimes and it might just work against us if we go for a long run. And let’s not forget Dallas. If we have to play Dallas 10 times in two months, I think I’ll go insane.

In regards to predicting a Stanley Cup win, I take a very Don Taylor-like approach. I won’t do it for fear of disappointment. Yes, we do have the potential to win the Stanley Cup, but so does Detroit, Pittsburgh, and New York. Nashville. Buffalo. Take your pick! It’ll be A LOT tougher than it was last year; the distribution of skill and talent is better throughout the NHL. If we’re going to win, the Canucks will have to step up to the plate, dominate the powerplay, and command that scoreboard. They have to play like they’re the best team in the league, because they are, and they have to remember that being the best doesn’t mean you can sit back – it means working even harder to stay there.

Also, just as an idea, maybe play both Lu and Schneids? Interchangeably? I know, it’s crazy, but can you imagine how that will play with our opponents heads? You go into a series picking weak spots on one goalie, not two. Moreover, Lou and Schneids are a team within a team – they make each other better. Just sayin’.

5. Why should people follow you on Twitter?  What can new followers expect?

You know, I don’t know why people follow me on Twitter, but if you’d like to, feel free to. However, new followers, I must insist that you tweet me, because I love having conversations with my followers.

I usually tweet about my acting career, my 2012 YouTube project, quotes on life, things I love about Vancouver, and the ridiculousness of my fabulous friends and family… but starting April, it’ll probably change to hockey, hockey, and more hockey. I also love tease-tweeting Derek Jory while he’s livetweeting the games, so you’ll see a lot of that banter too.

Thanks for reading everyone! See you during the playoffs!

Oct 262011

This just in: There are as many Vancouver Canucks fans who support Roberto Luongo as there are Vancouver Canucks fans who despise him.

Cory Schneider will get the start for the Canucks tonight when they take to the ice versus the St. Louis Blues, and head coach Alain Vigneault insists that was the plan from the start following his decision to pull Roberto Luongo midway through the second period in last night’s loss to Edmonton.

Now, there isn’t yet developed technology that allows us to see what’s going on in Vigneault’s head, but chances are he’s torn between sticking to Luongo or going to Schneider on a more frequent basis.

Has Roberto Luongo been bad, even by his usual October standards? Yes, there’s no sense even debating it. Even for October, this is the first time during his tenure with the Canucks that his save percentage has been below.900 (it’s .868) and his goals-against average has swollen to 3.46. Granted the competition Cory Schneider has beaten isn’t exactly top grade (Wins against Columbus and Minnesota), but has the backup given anyone reason to doubt his abilities?

Even during mop-up duty against the Oilers, Schneider’s goal-line save against Jordan Eberle in the third period during a 3-2 game gave the Canucks a fighting chance to even the score. In that regard, hasn’t Schneider done enough to earn tonight’s start, regardless of whether or not it was “the plan”?

Alain Vigneault has held his team to a standard that if you’re playing well, you’ll be rewarded. Conversely, if you’re playing poorly, you’re going to get bumped a couple notches down the pecking order. We’ve seen it this season when Jannik Hansen was bumped up to the second line when he scored an early goal against Minnesota, knocking Cody Hodgson down to the third line.

Why should goaltending be any different? Why should Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider be exceptions to Vigneault’s standards?

For the first time in his tenure with the Canucks, Roberto Luongo is being challenged by a backup who may just have the same skill set as him. He never had to look over his shoulder when Dany Sabourin, Curtis Sanford, or Andrew Raycroft were playing second fiddle to him, but Schneider is a different animal altogether.

Why not have Schneider start a few more? Why not force Luongo to work hard in practice and work his way out of this funk? At the end of the day, isn’t that what’s best for the team?

And it’s not like “franchise” netminders around the league haven’t undergone this before. Last year, Marc-Andre Fleury’s poor October saw Brent Johnson get an increase in ice time. Two years ago, Tim Thomas, coming off a Vezina win, was supplanted by young upstart Tuukka Rask. A year later, Thomas backstopped the Bruins to the Stanley Cup. And I don’t even need to bring up the well-documented Price vs. Halak war in Montreal.

The point is, whether fans choose to believe it or not, we might very well be at a crease crossroad. It’s still very early in the year, but this goalie debate has dragged on long enough that it’s not too early to give Cory Schneider a vote of confidence, either.

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