Found November 15, 2011 on Red Light District Hockey:
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The month of October is long gone, which means Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo must be settling into a groove between the pipes. That’s exactly the case, as Luongo has put another slow start in the rear view mirror.

Coming off an up and down postseason which saw Luongo help the Canucks come within one win of the franchise’s first ever Stanley Cup, the oft-criticized netminder stumbled out of the gates – much to the dismay of Canucks fans. It re-ignited the debate of whether Luongo’s long-term future should be in Vancouver. In reality, it was just Luongo’s normal sluggish start.

In seven October games, Luongo went 3-3-1 with a 3.54 goals-against average and .869 save percentage. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, as Luongo’s career numbers in the opening month read as this: 42-49-5, 2.65 GAA, .913 SV % – the worst out of any month for the 12-year veteran.

Anyone who has allowed Luongo’s career should have expected a bounce-back November. In six starts thus far this month, he boasts a 4-2-0 record, 2.30 GAA and .924 save percentage.

How has he done in October and November in the last four years? Let’s take a look:
OCTOBERNOVEMBER Rec GAA SV % Rec GAA SV % 2007-08 4-7-0 2.91  .903  8-2-2 1.56  .914  2008-09 6-4-0 2.98  .902  5-1-2 1.22  .959  2009-10 6-6-0 2.79  .902  4-3-0 2.23  .921  2010-11 2-3-2 2.93  .907  7-4-0 2.57  .914 
Though his numbers still won’t knock anyone’s socks off (7-5-1, 2.97 GAA, .896 SV %), Luongo’s return to (near) top form is a great sign for Vancouver. In October, he had just one game of giving up two goals or less. This month he has already done that four times.

As the Canucks continue their ascension up the standings and re-assert themselves as the team to beat in the Western Conference, they’ll need Luongo to continue his great play. There’s no reason to believe he won’t. Along with the aforementioned recent November success, Luongo possesses an 18-4-2 record in the last two Decembers. And remember, the Canucks didn’t really hit their stride last year until late November.

The Canucks may have an assortment of offensive weapons, but when Luongo is at the top of his game, the whole team plays better. After the rough start, it looks as if Luongo is inching closer to the dominant goaltender that was nominated for the Vezina Trophy a season ago.

Photo credit: Getty Images
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