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[Article] Luongo's drama free season


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This is about Roberto Luongo and that should be surprising.

Because this season, for the first time in a long, long time, a Canucks team is about everything but the goalie.

There’s the riveting new coach. There’s the fading top six. There’s the ongoing metamorphosis from the skilled playmakers of 2011 to the Burrard Street Bullies of 2014. There’s the cursed power play. There’s even Zack Kassian, who is chewing up screen time this week by single-handedly shaking the Oilers organization to its core.

What there is not, is any significant debate, or even discussion, about the goalie.

Given what he’s endured for the past couple of seasons, fitting into the background suits Luongo just fine.

In fact, and you may have missed this while looking down another hallway, Luongo is thriving in the shadows.

His .924 save percentage is crushing his career average (.919) and fits into the NHL’s top 10, tying the oft-lauded Carey Price. His 2.19 goals against average would rank second best in his 14-year career.

His winning percentage is .618, and that’s impressive given this Canucks team is scoring 2.47 goals per game. For a reference point, the 2006-07 Canucks, widely mocked for their offensive futility, scored at a 2.65 per-game average.

Through the Canucks’ first 51 games this year, Luongo is their MVP and whichever runner-up you want to come up with isn’t close.

At 34 years old, Luongo has been putting together a case on the ice that he’s as good as ever.

Maybe he’s better.

He sure looked it when he robbed Jordan Eberle Tuesday with a stunning blocker save. There was a time when he makes that save and probably is out of the play for a few clock ticks, lying on his belly. On Tuesday, he made that save and was back on his feet with awesome quickness.

Luongo has now twice come back from injuries that kept him out of the lineup for two weeks this season, and twice he’s returned to play exceptionally, like he hasn’t missed a period.

This seemed unheard of a few years ago, when he was the goalie who thrived on playing time, one who was a threat to go cold even if he had a few days off.

“My game is different than what it was in the past,” Luongo said. “When you trust in the way you play, it becomes easier to come back from an injury. You are able to rely on what you know and you execute.

“There was a time when I’d want a few games to feel things out but you don’t have that luxury anymore in the NHL. You have to be ready when you get back.”

That last comment is a nod to a lesson he learned under Alain Vigneault, but I’ll get to that later.

There were two turning points that had a massive impact on this Luongo, the one who is supposed to be entering his twilight years.

There was the lockout, and the six weeks he spent during it working with Francois Allaire. It was the first significant time he had spent with the goalie guru since he was a teenager.

“That’s where it started,” Luongo said. “It was a good foundation for me to build off of.

“Since last year, I have really been happy with the technical side of my game. I still want to keep adding to that, getting better.

“When you have a plan, and you’re not feeling it, you can still get out of the night with a pretty good game.”

Coincidentally, while he was building that new foundation with Allaire, he was losing playing time to Cory Schneider under Vigneault’s watch.

It was an experience that changed him, altering a player who maybe had become too comfortable because he was feeling entitled.

The lesson was a bitter one. Just because you are the starter today, doesn’t mean you are tomorrow, even if you won gold as Team Canada’s No. 1 goalie and took a team to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

“It helped me mentally more than technically,” Luongo said. “It refreshed my mind and put things in perspective.

“Maybe you take things a little bit for granted when you’ve been starting all those years.

“You don’t realize what a privilege it is.

“Right now, I’m just enjoying the game.”



© Copyright © The Province

Wow, never thought I'd say this but, a good read from Botchford.

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Wow, never thought I'd say this but, a good read from Botchford.

Good article! Was definitely interesting to read. Roberto is a very humble guy and I think he's finally feeling comfortable with this city and the media circus we have here, and just acting like himself.

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Yup, he's clearly been our MVP thus far, no one else is even close.

IMO our MVP's in order would be

#1 Luongo (by a mile)

#2 Kesler

#3 Hamhuis

Yes Hammer has made some mistakes but the guy has also been logging close to 30mins/game.

Pretty close to hammer I'd put Lack

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At the start of this season, I thought it was a near certainty that Roberto would activate his opt-out clause at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season.

And say what you will about the trade market but I honestly believe that the formerly "untradeable" Luongo is now a very moveable asset, given how the goalie market has changed (re: recent #1 extensions) and how teams have adjusted to the cap changes and the new CBA.

I don't think that nearly as many people will still be thinking that Lu's "contract sucks" when we reach the 2014 offseason.

That said, the more I hear from Luongo lately (and from what I can read on his face during the games and with how he interacts with teammates), it's seeming more likely that he's now leaning toward re-committing to the Canucks for the longterm.

Of course, it might also be the case that Lu's new management team has really helped him focus on what he needs to do, both on and off the ice, to help build his marketability in advance of a trade in summer 2014. Not to mention Lu's desire to re-claim the #1 starting role on Team Canada.

Maybe so, and maybe I'm choosing to be a little naive, but for the time being at least, I'd rather believe that Luongo has moved beyond the past issues and is once again a proud member of the Vancouver Canucks who is happy playing for his teammates and for the fans in this city.

Whatever the case may be, the Canucks are very lucky to have Luongo in their net for the 2013-14 season (and hopefully far beyond that).

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As Sid says, his new agent group may have a fair bit to do with it, and the decreased attention of Schneider having been moved helps probably too. I'd be happy to have him back but also respect him if he did want to move on after this year.

"There’s even Zack Kassian, who is chewing up screen time this week by single-handedly shaking the Oilers organization to its core."

I must have missed something profound here... what does this statement from the article refer to???


Injuring Gagner to begin with then his comments the first game after that injury, plus refusing to fight Gazdik last game and mentioning in comments afterwards he prefers that to opposing players liking him.

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"There’s even Zack Kassian, who is chewing up screen time this week by single-handedly shaking the Oilers organization to its core."

I must have missed something profound here... what does this statement from the article refer to???


Kassian is under the skin of every oiler, and he's putting up points against them too.

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Positive story ≠ well written article, stopped after 2nd sentence.

To the topic at hand I would of never fathom Lu playing this well. I thought that maybe we'd see a goalie completely void of all confidence after the gongshow goaliegate through the last year and a half. Still a little concerned about the Olympics, not how he plays there but the grind afterwards, but hopefully he can stay healthy and not get mowed down during the playoffs.

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He's having a career year probably, offensively he certainly is, but he's still on pace for only 42 points, which is good, but not quite MVP level. He's also a rather mediocre -2.

Part of the reason Lu is so far and away our MVP to me is that no one else has been that incredible. Some have majorly exceeded expectations (Tanev, Stanton, Santorelli), but they haven't played to the all-star level that Luongo has.

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We're all interdependent upon each other.

Article states how Av helped Lu; just as Jumbo & his rooster 'helped' Botch.

Media drones on about the team causing Lu/Cory-gate; maybe the media caused it for the team? In the end, Cory's technical-excellence may have helped Lu, as much as the experience helped from the vet to the youngin'.

Three of the top nine(currently, league-wide) in gt numbers are our two, + Schneids. As fans, we've been treated to almost a decade of pretty sweet goaltending. Would be even sweeter, if this Eriksson kid keeps progressing to his full potential.

As for Lu, by this summer I'd grown rather tired of all the off-ice hoopla. Wanted him just to zip it & play. He's done that, & brilliantly too. If he wants to stay, we're golden with this tandem under 6.5 mill, for next two seasons.

Should he want to move on, that's fine too, if we can net a nice return.

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My dad and I were actually just talking about this the other day

Last season it seems all anyone did was focus on Luongo. And now this season, it's like none of that even happened.

Cory is a mere memory and we have moved on with Lu and Lack as our goalies.

It's all about the team again. Lu is playing solid, the team is continuing to adjust to Torts's systems, and we're all just moving on. Good on Lu for going about his daily business and not making it about him anymore. We're a better team for it.

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