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Very Interesting Read On Nhl.com (Insights On Lu's "problems")


Ugli Fruit

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A lot of things CDC had a problem with about Luongo (eg. flopping forwards, five-hole weakness) has been potentially explained in this article.

Sure, it may be wrong, but who knows? The explanation and logic is fairly sound.

Cory Schneider extended the Canucks' season with a stellar 43-save performance Wednesday.

The question is whether he also ended Roberto Luongo's time in Vancouver with that clutch performance against Los Angeles in Game 4 of the teams' Western Conference Quarterfinal series.

It's a question that probably won't be answered for months -- one with even more moving parts than Schneider showed in Game 4 in making a series of game- and season-saving stops in a 3-1 victory that prevented the top-seeded Canucks from being swept.

The complexity of the question won't keep it from being asked, though. Not with Luongo, a goaltender whose pride runs as deep as his resume and contract, reduced potentially to the role of postseason spectator.

At the end of the day, the answer has to come from Luongo himself because of a no-trade clause included in the 12-year, $64-million contract that still has a decade to run. Luongo controls his future and has made it clear he likes Vancouver as a city and as an organization that gives him a chance to add one of the few things still missing from his NHL career -- a Stanley Cup.

Whether he is willing to stay and share the starting job with -- or lose it to -- Schneider is another question only Luongo can answer. Whether he has to answer that no longer appears to be in question.

If there were any lingering doubts about Schneider's development into a bona fide No. 1 goalie with star potential after a regular season in which he finished second in the NHL in save percentage (.937) and third in goals-against average (1.96), they were erased after he replaced Luongo as the Game 3 starter. Since then he's stopped 62 of 64 shots, including a crucial Dustin Brown penalty shot just before the Canucks made it 3-1 on the same power play.

None of which should be an outright indictment of Luongo as a goalie.

After another shaky start to the season while again making changes to his game under second-year goalie coach Roland Melanson, Luongo was among the League's better goalies in the regular season. He posted a .925 save percentage from November on that would rank No. 7 in the NHL -- just ahead of Nashville's Pekka Rinne -- during a full season.

And any analysis that points only to Luongo's .891 save percentage while losing the first two games against the Kings fails to recognize the degree of difficulty among the 35 stops he made in Game 1, when he easily was the Canucks' best player, and a .951 save percentage while playing at even strength. Luongo's even-strength save percentage trails only three other goalies with a playoff start -- Rinne (.962), Schneider (.957) and Jonathan Quick (.955).

So the question going into the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- at least in Vancouver -- wasn't so much if Luongo was good. The question was whether Schneider might be even better.

The answer goes beyond the statistics, and even beyond Schneider proving himself -- first with key regular-season wins in tough situations against rivals like Boston, Chicago and San Jose, and now in the playoffs -- and includes everything from physiology to psychology.

Physically, Schneider is an inch shorter than the 6-foot-3 Luongo, but has other benefits on the ice.

For starters, his skates are an easier-to-steer "size 9 or 9.5," contributing to Schneider being a better skater than Luongo, who navigates the ice with size-15 skates. That difference manifested itself in Dustin Brown's penalty shot in Game 4, as Schneider came way out and matched Brown's speed back before making the save, something Luongo couldn't do as well when Brown scored on a shorthanded breakaway in Game 2.

Luongo also is bowlegged and lacks the natural hip flexibility to use the wider butterfly that Schneider employs. In other words, Schneider can spread his legs so his pads go almost straight across in front of him, whereas Luongo has a narrower butterfly, with skates and pads in behind him as he drops. This makes it easier -- and faster -- for Schneider to push laterally across the ice from his knees. Luongo, meanwhile, is sometimes forced to fall forward so he can spread his pads across the ice as far as Schneider.

Longer legs and less flexibility also can create more holes down low, something Mike Richards exploited on a five-on-three power play in Game 1, only to be turned away by Schneider on a similar attempt during a five-on-four in Game 4. The Kings also stuffed the winning goal through Luongo on a Game 2 power play, something they found harder to do against Schneider, who can both seal up easier and spread out wider in scrambles.

As for psychology, it is a bit more complicated.

Critics are quick to point to Luongo's struggles in Boston during the Stanley Cup Final last spring, often while failing to mention the two 1-0 shutouts he posted at home. But the decision facing the Canucks may be less about Luongo's perceived mental frailty -- he did, after all, come back from being benched to start Game 6 against Chicago in the first round of the playoffs last year to backstop a crucial Game 7 overtime win -- and more about his willingness to potentially play second fiddle after more than 11 seasons as a clear-cut No. 1.

Luongo has handled a decreasing role admirably this season, saying several times that Schneider is going to be a star in the NHL, and the Canucks made it clear heading into these playoffs that trading that future star was not in the immediate plans, even with the current star locked in long-term. The 26-year-old Schneider is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, but Vancouver retains his rights -- and the ability to match any offer sheets from other teams. As for trading Luongo -- it's not entirely up to them.

That's a question only Luongo can answer -- one of many he now faces.

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12 year contracts are like marriages. At the time they seem like a great idea, but after a few years when bitterness and jealously over a 3rd party creep in, the love is no longer there. To be fair to Roberto, after being turned on by coaching and management, and the fans for almost unanimously choosing to love the third wheel. A divorce is required, for the best interest of both parties. To quote some mindless cell phone marketing campaign “When the love is gone, Move on”

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What really ticks me off is the media and CDC are stirring up crap just for the sake of being a bunch of idiots.

We have a good team and two exceptional goalies its time to put your ego aside for the team.

We are in the fight of our lives and people want to start speculation and crap, i am sure the person who started this is a TRoll

because there is no reason to bring up any of this stuff until the playoffs are over.

Schnieder will hopefully finish off this series right to the end so we see the second series.

Then we are starting from scratch Lu goes back in the nets...if things go side ways put Cory back in, but if it doesnt go sidewat.. we will win with both goalies that are two of the best proffesionals I have ever seen.

Stop the crap till we are out..please..stop sabotaging our team.

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What really ticks me off is the media and CDC are stirring up crap just for the sake of being a bunch of idiots.

We have a good team and two exceptional goalies its time to put your ego aside for the team.

We are in the fight of our lives and people want to start speculation and crap, i am sure the person who started this is a TRoll

because there is no reason to bring up any of this stuff until the playoffs are over.

Schnieder will hopefully finish off this series right to the end so we see the second series.

Then we are starting from scratch Lu goes back in the nets...if things go side ways put Cory back in, but if it doesnt go sidewat.. we will win with both goalies that are two of the best proffesionals I have ever seen.

Stop the crap till we are out..please..stop sabotaging our team.

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Interesting clinical look and comparison of the two players. I think the key to Luongo comes at the end when it ventures towards "mental frailty". Overall, as I've mentioned in other threads, I don't think Schnieder is a better goalie but he is younger, will sign for less and I don't feel a goalie can be relied on to win a game or series. The team needs to play in front of the goalie, and the goalie in turn needs to not fall apart.

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Then we are starting from scratch Lu goes back in the nets...if things go side ways put Cory back in, but if it doesnt go sidewat.. we will win with both goalies that are two of the best proffesionals I have ever seen.

Stop the crap till we are out..please..stop sabotaging our team.

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