Canucks: Bobby Lu, and the Quest for Consistency
If the Canucks played in a non Canadian market, hell even a non Vancouver market, many would be pleased with the team's progress so far. They are currently tied for first place in the northwest division with Colorado, Their top two forwards are producing at more than a point per game rate, their second line has shown flashes of brilliance, their third line has been praised for most of the season, and their defense is deeper than it has been in years, possibly ever. However, the Canucks still have one monkey of King Kong-esque proportions on their backs; The play of Roberto Luongo.
He came out of the gate this season running, a welcome change from his usual October doldrums. The team didn't exactly tear it up during that stretch, but many pundits were ecstatic with Luongo's play. "It was the cycling he did during the off season!" They proclaimed. "No, it was taking the captaincy away, thats what did it!" They shouted. The city was enthused, happy their premium puck stopper was back to his old self.
That enthusiasm lasted.. well, about four or five games. Then Luongo started faltering again. Not going post to post fast enough, letting rebounds get away from him, and that damn knob of his stick.. well, suffice to say, it isn't exactly helping him out.
Canucks fans started panicking again (keep in mind here, we're less than 30 games into the season) and in stepped their white, well ginger, knight Cory Schneider. His first three games, he allowed three goals in wins over Carolina, Minnesota and Colorado.
His save percentage was off the charts, as was his goals against average. Canucks fans were screaming for Schneider to be put in instead of Luongo. Play the kid! They screeched. Luongo is overrated!
3 games in, they decided this.
Schneider then allowed four goals in an OT loss to the Sabres, and another three in a relief appearance against the Blackhawks.
Fans have suddenly realized the dude isn't bulletproof.
However, he is a seemingly capable backup, and he may one day be the number one guy for a team.
One thing for sure, that team isn't the Canucks. Not with Luongo's reputation, his aura, and most importantly, his bloated contract.
Not to say that Luongo has been god awful this season, because he hasn't. He's been relatively good, sometimes sterling. However, sometimes exceptional isn't consistent enough, not for ten million dollars.
Luongo, whether Canuck fans like it or not, is the straw that stirs the drink. If the Canucks want to succeed in the playoffs, Luongo has to be the one to step up. If he can find his game by then, this team could make a Stanley Cup run.
You have to believe that given his history, his god like play in his first season here, that he will be better. He has to be better.
At the end of the day however, it's not like the Canucks are up you-know-what creek. The top line is producing, and Alex Burrows is back from injury. He makes the Sedins, already leading the team with 26 points in 21 games, even better. Ryan Kesler is producing, as is parts of the third line with Manny Malhotra and Raffi Torres.
Jeff Tambellini, if Wednesday's game against Colorado is any indication, seems to be a good fit with either the Sedins, or on the second line with Kesler and Mason Raymond.
The Revamped Defense has been solid, with the exception of new Alain Vigneault whipping boy Keith Ballard. The Powerplay is number one in the entire freaking league!
It's time to take a deep breath Canuck fans. Instead of ranting about the play of Roberto Luongo, instead of blasting Keith Ballard, be happy the defense is deep, and that Cory Schneider can take the reigns if needed.