Originally posted on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 4/18/12
Watch the Crease

The strangest part about the position the Vancouver Canucks currently find themselves in is not only that Roberto Luongo is the first starter benched in a playoffs that has seen Luongo-esque performances by Marc-Andre Fleury, Ilya Bryzgalov, Martin Brodeur and Jose Theodore, but also that this is the first Vancouver playoff meltdown in the Luongo era that isn’t his fault even one bit.

The move to start Cory Schneider was purely tactical. Luongo was probably the best Canuck in the first two games but the team in front of him was lethargic and out of sync, so Alain Vigneault made the goaltending switch in order to snap the Canucks out of their funk.

 Unfortunately, Schneider ran into the same problem Luongo faced in the first two games.

It doesn’t matter how good you are in net if the team in front of you can’t get a goal or two.

So what happens next? The lingering goaltending debate was due to be solved this summer, I assume, but no one thought the season would be on the verge of ending so soon.

Lu or Schu, the Canucks need to allow less goals Wednesday night. (Photo - Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

If the Canucks go back to Luongo, they’re riding him to either four straight wins or one more loss. It means Cory Schneider‘s brilliant Game 3 could very well be his last in a Canucks uniform.

If the Canucks go with Schneider, a whole can of worms gets opened up this summer about Luongo’s role on the team and where he could possibly be pawned off to.

After all, Alain Vigneault would reveal yesterday only that he was “going to play the goaltender I feel is going to give us the best chance to win”, a standard cryptic non-answer but one that also hides a perhaps a kernal of insight into the off-season.

Can Alain Vigneault go with the goalie who gives him a better chance to win and not have the Canucks stand by that pick this summer? (Of coruse, this point is moot if Vigneault winds up fired.)

This is why the announcement is so interesting, it’s not just the starter for Game 4, it could be the starter going forward. With that in mind, let’s break down the pros and cons of each goalie.

Roberto Luongo

Pros: He’s been the de-facto 1A all season and aside from the hiccups in October and March, he quietly put together his most consistent season as a Canuck.

His resume as well is a bit more padded than Schneider’s, what with the gold medal, world championships, and all that playoff experience. Luongo has seen these high-pressure situations before and (mostly) comes out on top.

The ex-Captain is one of the faces of the franchise and it’s hard to see the Canucks cut ties with him after failing to both stop pucks and score goals in Games 1 and 2.

Luongo is a franchise goalie, one you don’t dump simply because you have a kid who could be a franchise goalie one day.

Cons: 7oun8o. The definition of insanity is trying the same over and over and expecting different results. Roberto Luongo has proved that as good as he can be, he’s also a ticking time-bomb ready to implode the entire season.

Add in that contract, and if you have a chance to flip him to a team that will be happy to use him just to make the playoffs and maybe win a round, do it.

Do it before you go insane.

Can Alain Vigneault go with the goalie who gives him a better chance to win and not have the Canucks stand by that pick this summer?

Cory Schneider

Pros: With his unflappable cool demeanour, Cory Schneider is the antithesis to Roberto Luongo. He’s proven this year that he can deliver high quality starts despite riding the pine for 5-10 days at a time.

He doesn’t need a warming up period like Luongo does, simply set him and forget him.

He’s also younger, cheaper, and hasn’t had his mind broken by the market yet.

Cons: The things that make Schneider perhaps a more attractive choice also make more attractive trade bait. You could get a much nicer return for Schneider and since Luongo is no slouch, wouldn’t that make the team as a whole better?

After all, the playoffs aren’t a pure goaltending competition, just ask the Canucks this year whether scoring goals is important too.

Advantage: Man, I don’t know. This is why I don’t get paid to make hockey decisions and just write about them.L

Like the first three games, if the Canucks can’t score, you could start myself and have just as a good chance to win.


© Richard Hodges for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

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Post tags: 2012 NHL playoffs, Alain Vigneault, Canucks Blog, Cory Schneider, Cory Schneider vs. Roberto Luongo, Game 4, Game Four, Ilya Bryzgalov, Jose Theodore, LU, Marc-Andre Fleury, Martin Brodeur, NHL Playoffs, Roberto Luongo, Schneids, Vancouver Canucks

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