In the latest development in the Roberto Luongo ‘fish-bowl’ scenario, the Edmonton Oilers top line chased the much maligned goaltender with 3 goals on 14 shots.
For the first time in 5 tries, the Edmonton Oilers (4-2-2) defeated a Northwest division rival, due in large part to Nikolai Khabibulin’s stingy ways. The 38 year old veteran came into the game leading the league in goals against average, and was second in save percentage. He finished the night with 35 saves, but 200 feet away Luongo showed signs of his annual slow October starts.
It was a frustrating night for me. I felt I was moving well and seeing the puck well in the first period and then in a five-minute span they got three quick ones and that was all she wrote. The result was disappointing, but the way I felt out there was the way I want to feel every night.
Luongo, who was replaced by Cory Schneider in the second period, cracked his stick against the bench on his way off the ice. Coach Alain Vigneault defended his starter, citing a slow start by the club as the main reason they lost the game.
We had plenty of scoring opportunities, but we’re getting behind the eight-ball early and letting the other teams score the first goal. We’re having trouble finding the back of the net. It always seems to be a challenge for us in October to find our timing and our rhythm. This October doesn’t seem to be any different.
Luongo’s replacement stopped all 8 shots he faced, including absolute robbery of Jordan Eberle on the doorstep. Eberle looked up at the score-clock in disbelief, saying “Wow”, which seemed to mimick the sentiments of the murmuring crowd at Rexall Place.
Perhaps the Canucks’ fortunes will see a turn-around on home turf when they host the St. Louis Blues later tonight (Wednesday) at Rogers Arena. The Blues sport a nearly identical record to the Canucks, but have some momentum behind them with back to back wins. For now, the silver lining for fans in Vancouver is that slow starts in October are almost a fall ritual for Luongo and the rest of the Orca crew. Additionally, there is an expected ‘break-in’ period for new addition David Booth and his new “American Express” line-mates, Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins. But make no mistake about it, the Vancouver Sun and Province (local newspapers) are all over this trend in Luongo’s game. During Team 1040 radio interviews, Mike Gillis has had to respond to criticism for the teams slow start, and the result hasn’t been pretty. Some words have been exchanged, which almost certainly means this story won’t die anytime soon. Unfortunately for Roberto Luongo, until he’s able to return to his normal high standard of play, there will continue to be no shortage of scrutiny, deserved or not.