The Vancouver Canucks now find themselves in quite a dilemma due the outstanding goaltending by Cory Schneider who has been outplaying the 2011 Vezina trophy nominee Roberto Luongo. Saturday night Schneider stole the show at the HP Pavilion in the 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. Schneider made 43 saves bringing the Canucks to their fourth straight win. In his last four games Schneider acquired 4 wins, 2 shutouts, and allowed only 3 goals giving him a season average of .931 SV% and 2.02 GAA.
On the other side, Roberto Luongo has been out due to an upper body injury but was healthy enough to start Saturday night. However due to Schneider’s performance against the Phoenix Coyotes Friday night he earned the start against San Jose. After 13 games played Luongo has a .896 SV% and a 2.97 GAA, neither being impressive numbers for Vancouver’s number one goaltender.
Some Canuck fans may argue that Luongo’s poor statistics is due to the lack of performance of his team in front of him. Some nights it is a matter of a poor team performance although this poor performance could also be due to player’s lack of trust towards Roberto Luongo. In the last five of Schneider’s starts the Canucks scored 14 goals (including the blowout loss in Chicago). This number is comparable to Luongo’s last five starts where the Canucks scored 18 goals. The difference is Schneider allowing 8 goals in those 5 games and Luongo allowing 12 goals in those 5 games. Remember that Luongo’s last five starts did show some improvement in his performance compared to his previous starts.
Could the team in front of Luongo, specifically the defensemen, no longer trust their number one goaltender after his shaky playoff performance? Or has Roberto Luongo currently misplaced his confidence needing time to recover from the Stanley Cup Game 7 defeat? From closely watching each game it seems that Luongo’s struggles could be a combination of both: lack of team trust and lack of self confidence. This season the Vancouver Canucks seem to play better, harder, and an overall Canuck style of hockey when Cory Schneider is in net. When Roberto Luongo is in net, the team in front of him plays a more panicked, inconsistent, selfish, and a risky game.
The Vancouver Canucks do not have the only goaltending controversy in the NHL. The Buffalo Sabres back up goaltender Jonas Enroth has been proving himself during Vezina trophy winner Ryan Miller’s absence do to a concussion. However even before Miller’s concussion, Jonas Enroth was over shining Miller.
The St.Louis Blues also find themselves doubting the play of Jaroslav Halak due to the brilliant performances of newly acquired Brian Elliot. Elliot is currently leading goalie statistics with a .951 SV%, a 1.34 GA, and 3 shutouts.
The Canuck’s start their home stance Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets who have been gradually improving after their poor start. Look for Columbus to play hard to try to earn their way out of last place in the league. It is still questionable on who will get the start against Columbus. The Canucks have to decide whether to stick to the hot goaltender Cory Schneider, or give Roberto Luongo a chance and risk a loss for changing the winning line-up.
The four game home stance will be a test for Luongo to see if he is able to compete along side Schneider, Luongo is expected to get at least one start. At the beginning of the season it looked like the Canucks would have duo starting goaltenders, meaning they would split the games. Conversely, if Cory Schneider continues his current performance and Luongo can not match it, Schneider may officially steal the starting goaltending position inVancouver.
Game Recap: 3-2 Canucks with goals from Manny Malholtra (Hansen, Ballard), Henrik Sedin (Hamhuis, Bieksa), and unexpectedly Andrew Alberts (Kesler, Higgins) with his first goal of the season that became the game winning goal.
San Josegoals from Andrew Murray (Desjardins, Vandermeer) and Patrick Marleau (Thornton, Pavelski).
Cory Schneider with 43 saves and San Jose’ Antti Niemi with 24 saves.
Injury Update: Canuck’s forward Mason Raymond is getting closer and closer to his season debut after being a last minute game time decision Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks. It will be his first game back after fracturing vertebrae early in game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. He will most likely make his debut to an ecstatic Vancouver crowd sometime during the Canuck’s four game home stance.
Defenseman Alexandre Edler left during Saturday night’s game due to an upper body injury caused by a collision with Jamie McGinn. No word yet on the seriousness of the injury, he will be evaluated tomorrow.