Canucks and Beyond

Dear Vancouver: When All is Going Well, Be Sure to Find Something to Whine About

03/17/2009 at 4:49pm EDT

The Vancouver media is even glad to set the trend for you. From the Vancouver Sun:

Roberto Luongo, the Vancouver Canucks’ last line of defence, went on the offensive Monday when faced with a series of questions about a recent rash of soft goals and his struggles playing the puck outside his crease. [...]

“Like I said, all the goalies make mistakes behind the net, even the best ones in the league,” Luongo said. “So just because I make mistakes doesn’t mean it has to be amplified and suggested I don’t know how to play the puck.”

Puck Daddy responds to Luongo’s irritation with a wry “Doesn’t change the fact that at times he’s been softer than Vince Vaughn’s midsection in between movies.”

Ah, swell. So, a 2.35 GAA is the new standard for “soft”...

The breakdown of Luongo’s last 17 games—those played since the team turned things around after February 1st—goes as follows.

  • 14-2-1 is the record
  • Luongo has been scored against 40 times in those 17 games—a 2.35 goals-against-average

Given that Luongo’s average for the season is actually at 2.44 GAA, he’s notably improved in the last 17 games, not worsened.

This isn’t to deny that Luongo has let a few in that you’d expect him to stop. But if you only judge his performance based on those few ‘soft’ goals, you’re ignoring all those he stops that kick ass.

When hockey is played well, it’s a game of averages and when you allow in an average of 2.35 goals per game and your team scores an average of 3.18 goals per game (the Canucks record over the same 17 game period, scoring 54 goals), that, my friends, is what we call a “winning record”. Luongo and everyone else deserves credit for that. Credit they can and should all share.

It’s when hockey is played badly that is comes down to one man. One goalie or one scorer. Of course, those games do happen, and a team does need a player—goalie or scorer—to steal a game once in a while.

But that’s not exactly a desirable state of affairs. That’s desperation hockey, and if it were necessary all the time, that wouldn’t be a sign of a team that’s likely to have much success.

The Canucks current record is a result of excellent play from nearly all parts of their game, and that includes Luongo.

Frankly, I don’t see how it can get much better than that.

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