The Goaltending Controversy Del Två (Part Two)

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Since the arrival of Cory Schneider in the 2010-11 season, a significant era began. This period is what fans like to call “The Goaltending Controversy”. 

Schneider came waltzing in swooning the fans and management away from Roberto Luongo. The rookie eventually stole the spotlight from Luongo and became the new starting goalie. Schneider’s reign came to an abrupt end in 2013 when he was traded to New Jersey for a first round draft pick.

Luongo was the starter again and it was the end of the never-ending story. Then came along the 2014 Olympic break. When the break was over, former coach John Tortorella anointed Eddie Lack as the Canucks new starter.

The shafted Luongo was eventually traded to Florida and all was good again. The Canucks, under the new management of Jim Benning, signed Ryan Miller to become the new starting goalie. It was apparent the controversy was finally over and it was the start of a new chapter for the franchise.

Today after a pre-game practice on the Canucks seven game road trip, Jason Botchford went to Twitter with some “big news”.

“Miller will start,” Botchford tweeted, “Willie was leaning Lack but Miller made what the coach thought was a good point.”

One minute later Botchford continued to say, “Miller said it would be more difficult for Lack starting a day after a team day off. Easier to go with the guy who has been playing.”

After these tweets came out, social media erupted with debates and thus re-sparked “The Goaltending Controversy”.

It would be an absolute shame for this to become the highlight of the season. Vancouver has had enough of this recurring theme. It is unclear whether Miller was being selfless or selfish in stealing a game against the Washington Capitals from Lack. From how it has been interpreted by Botchford and other sports news personalities, it appears to be more selfish.

Eddie Lack has started in five games this season. Some may argue he will not be starting tonight because of his 1-3-1 record this season but Lack is not at fault for these losses. In his few starts, Lack has been thrown out to the wolves on the short end of back-to-back games.

Tonight Lack would have had a chance to prove himself to Canucks fans and his teammates as a reliable goaltender but has been given the shaft. It would make more sense to start Ryan Miller in the next game where they play the Pittsburgh Penguins and give Lack the start tonight. For all fans know, Lack may be in net on Thursday, but it will most likely be Miller taking both starts.

It would be a shame to give Lack only the short end of back-to-backs and it could be detrimental to his development. Miller has been given four straight starts as of Sunday afternoon.

It seems to be a no-brainer to start Lack in net after Millers disaster in Detroit on Sunday afternoon. If Miller blows up again tonight, it will be interesting to see what unfolds next.

Welcome back to the Goaltending Controversy.

Caleb Harder

@cjaharder

Has the Goaltending Controversy Reignited?

Random thoughts of a thin skinned blogger before game two.

Well, game two is hours away and there is a consensus out there that it’s a pretty important one for the Canucks. It may well be, but let’s not forget that the Canucks had a 2-0 series lead in the finals last year as well. It would however be nice to see the Canucks get back to their game. Cut out the cheap stuff and trying to read the referees and just play the game. The rest should take care of itself, even though it is entirely possible that this Los Angeles team that everyone said at the start of the year was a contender, may be peaking at the right time.

Thin skinned…yeah sure…ok.

So I guess I fall under the thin skinned people that various bloggers were referring to in reference to the Kingsgate Twitter scandal. I never got worked up about it; it’s just not the way I would run my organization. There are certain models that businesses follow to achieve their goals. Whatever your preference is that’s fine. My preference would be to have my organization represent itself with class, and it does that in spades with @VanCanucks. To each their own I guess…Jim Rome has a popular talk show for a reason.

But what about Cory?

Wait! How can I scold the kings for their Twitter indiscretion but condone what Core Schneider said about Edmonton you say? Well, Schneider was already in full apology mode for making these comments in response to being asked about why the Canucks seem to be hated so much:

“You look around the league and people don’t like us and Pittsburgh and we’re two of the better teams. You saw Darcy Hordichuk and Ben Eager in Edmonton. Nobody cares about Edmonton so nobody hates them. It’s that simple.”

Now anyone who knows Cory and the type of person he is would understand Schneider was referring to the fact that no one hates last place teams. Unfortunately his words weren’t chosen wisely. I wonder if those same bloggers will accuse those folks in Edmonton of having a thin skin? The shame.

Postgame Circus

I don’t how talk show host do it. Driving home after Wednesday’s game, I turned on the postgame show on @TEAM1040 and couldn’t believe the calls that were coming in from fans. One caller called in saying the fix was in and that Gary Bettman has decreed that because of the television market, Los Angeles shall win the series. That the Bitz hit turned around on the Canucks would have resulted in a two minute penalty at the most, guaranteed. I ended up having to turn it off. The insanity was too much to take, which is unfortunate because I enjoy pregame and postgame stuff generally. Some people clearly need to step off the ledge and take a few deep breaths after a loss.

Pregame Video

The last regular season game I went to I tweeted that the Canucks pregame video was rather uninspiring. Wednesday night they made up for it with a great intro video that got the hairs raised and the goose bumps sprouting. The Canucks do a great job of these in general, and it was great to see them crank it up for the playoffs.

Can it Kesler

Please Ryan Kesler, just get back to being a dominating two way scoring threat! Leave the other crap behind and just play like we all know you can. We need Kesler leading…not getting taken off his game by all the after the whistle stuff.

Anyone but Raymond?

I don’t think Mason Raymond is cut out for first line minutes. He just doesn’t finish well enough to be playing with Henrik. I’m not sure what the answer is while we wait for Daniel’s return, but I’m not sold that Raymond is the answer. That said, every time I voice this opinion he seems to go on a two game scoring streak.

Thank me later.

Off to the game, GO CANUCKS GO!

Bruce Ng: These Are Not The Droid Goaltenders You Are Looking For

Luongo and Schneider sharing a tender moment in front of thousands of fans.

Tonight Cory Schneider makes his sixth consecutive start in the pipes for the Vancouver Canucks, despite Roberto Luongo being pronounced healthy for the last few games.

Is there a goalie controversy here? The Canucks coaches and management would have us believe that there is no controversy, but as Canucks fans tend to do, we make our own drama and decide what is controversial or not.

Here are a few thoughts on Canucks goaltending and where this is all going.

There is a goalie controversy.

Despite what the coaches and goaltenders themselves will tell you, this is a controversy. Luongo should be the number one goaltender, and should have started as soon as he was healthy. This is what starting goalies are supposed to do. All the coaches and goalies talk about being supportive of each other is just covering up what’s really going on. Schneider is staking a claim to Luongo’s spot in the crease.

There is no goalie controversy.

How can you not continue to play a guy that had two shutouts in a row? He’s winning games – the Canucks maybe shouldn’t have beaten Ottawa, if not for Schneider that night. So let him keep playing. Coach Vigneault is just rolling with the hot hand, which happens to be Schneider. Once Schneider loses, Luongo will likely resume his work as number one and regain his spot in the crease. Schneider will then go back to being the NHL’s best backup, to one of the NHL’s best starting goalies.

Luongo’s Upper Body Injury is more serious than originally thought.

Is it possible that Luongo is sitting because he’s not 100%? Maybe. In Luongo’s last start (a 4-1 win versus the New York Islanders), he took a shot off the helmet. Schneider started stretching in the tunnel, but Luongo managed to finish the game. Luongo hasn’t seen action since. He didn’t dress for a couple games, and has been practicing, but sitting as backup since.

The Canucks are showcasing Schneider for trade bait.

Schneider has been playing very well since a 5-1 loss to Chicago. The whole team has been playing better, but there’s no such thing as an easy shutout anymore, and Schneider posted two in a row. First he shut out the Avalanche. Two days later, he shut out the Coyotes. The very next night, he stopped 43-of-45 shots on the second half of a back to back, willing the Canucks to a win in San Jose. There are a number of teams in the NHL that could use a starting goalie of Schneider’s calibre (two of which Schneider shut out on the last road trip). No better way to increase trade value of a young goaltender than to play him more.

Is any of this real?

@transcendwebs: My opinion that #Canucks ride the hot hand (Schneider) til he loses. Also my opinion that Luongo is still the man. #LonelyTweet

I believe the Canucks will do whatever it takes to win. Right now Schneider is winning, Coach Vigneault doesn’t want to mess with a winning formula, so Schneider keeps playing. Call it a goaltending controversy or not, tandem or not, it doesn’t matter.

This isn’t the controversy you’re looking for, so long as the Canucks keep winning.

Tamed by the Wild

Despite being bounced from the playoffs by the Chicago Blackhawks in consecutive years, the Vancouver Canucks have had pretty good luck in the Windy City. Both of their wins in last year’s second round came at the United Center, and both of them came in convincing fashion. They go into tonight’s game, however, just 24 hours shy of an embarrassing performance in Minnesota. The Canucks were trounced 6-2 by a Wild squad that has underwhelmed its fans in every other game so far this season. The Wild, in fact, was so disappointing in its first four games – something Canucks fans have been chirping and tweeting about regarding their own team – that coach Todd Richards elected to bag skate the team just hours prior to the game. The message? “Hey, Wild? You suck.” And he was right.


Sadly, that sucky team managed to spank the Vancouver Canucks, who didn’t put up much of a fight. The Sedins scored 58 seconds in, but waited until the final three minutes of the game to put up their second goal. Roberto Luongo resurrected his panicky play of last year, allowing 6 goals on 18 shots in the first two periods. He was out of position, slow to move across the crease, and entirely sub-par through forty minutes of play. After giving up just two goals in his first two games this season, Luongo has now given up 14 goals in his last eight periods of play. This is particularly damning coming from me – I’m one of Bobby Lou’s biggest supporters: he has sucked the big one over the past week.


The performance last night has nothing to do with Keith Ballard being out of an NHL lineup for the first time in four seasons. None of it can be put upon Sami Salo still sitting at home in Finland with his leg injury, or Dan Hamhuis sitting out with a bruised ankle from the Canucks win over Carolina the other night. From top to bottom, the Canucks stunk the joint out in Minnesota. In Anaheim, the Canucks were the better team for 57 minutes and change, but lost to a sorry Ducks team; in Minnesota, the Canucks were the better team for approximately one minute, then decided to look forward to tonight’s tilt in Chicago. The Wild a-schooled ‘em.


The worst part of it all? Instead of coming out with all cylinders firing in the third period, the game all but lost with the Wild leading 6-1, the Canucks were even flatter to end the game. Alain Vigneault celebrating his 600th game as a coach in the NHL? Let’s get out there and at least win the period, right? Nah. They mailed it in. Ryan Kesler’s body language was defeated well before the final buzzer. When he missed an open net late in the second period, he skated to the bench like a petulant child, shoulders slumped and lips as pouty as the third runner-up on America’s Next Top Model. Like that show, the Canucks were painful to watch.


Even spark plug Rick Rypien shamed himself. Instead of winning a fight he shouldn’t and giving the Wild a reminder that hey, the Canucks will thump them right back on Friday in Vancouver, he sucker punched Minnesota forward Brad Staubitz, shoved a linesman and then decided it would be a good idea to go after a fan in the stands. The Canucks got rid of Darcy Hordichuk because he made bad in-game decisions, so Rypien gives us this?


The good news is this: Roberto Luongo was 6-1 following up these kinds of implosions last year. (Don’t get me started on the bad news that he had seven of these implosions last year.) He has a ridiculous record going head-to-head with Marty Turco. And Cory Schneider has looked strong in his four periods of work so far this young season.


I’m not pushing the panic button yet. Hey, it’s five games in, and Henrik leads the league with nine assists. Daniel is second in goals, with six. A win tonight in Chicago would sure help settle the growing unease in this city, though, wouldn’t it?


Follow Jason Kurylo on Twitter.

Subscribe to his podcast, Pucked in the Head, on iTunes.


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Gotta love them Canes!

by Jason Kurylo

Canucks celebrate a goal versus Carolina. Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com
Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

By now, the Vancouver Canucks are probably circling home games against the Carolina Hurricanes as soon as the NHL publishes the season schedule. For the second time in as many visits, the Hurricanes provided just what the Canuck doctors ordered to get off the schneid.

On February 3, 2009, Vancouver had lost eight straight games, and some guy named Mats Sundin was being blamed for pretty much every sorry period of the skid. The Canes had lost three straight games in Vancouver, but given the Canucks’ recent penchant for dropping games they should win, pundits were not confident going in.

Well, the top points-getter in Maple Leafs history responded with a goal and an assist, and Alexandre Burrows scored a short-handed goal with 82 seconds left on the clock to give the Canucks a 4-3 victory. Roberto Luongo recorded his first win in six games after returning from a groin injury.  Ryan Kesler scored his third goal in two games after suffering an embarrassing 11-game slump. The Canucks would subsequently go on a wicked tear, and enter the playoffs as one of the league’s hottest teams.

So fans of this year’s Cup favourites shouldn’t be surprised by this snake bitten Canucks team beating the tar out of the Southeast Division cellar dwellers, 5-1.

Cory Schneider got his first start of the season tonight, which came as a surprise, as Luongo almost never sits on the bench for a home game when he’s not injured. It turned out not to matter – Schneider was never truly pressured by the woeful “offense” of Carolina. Sure, he stopped 32 of 33 shots – the only one to get by him came as Patrick O’Sullivan slapped one home on a two-on-one break. Schneider was solid, however, keeping rebounds to a minimum and letting his D-men do the heavy lifting most of the night.

Mason Raymond scored his first two goals of the year, one skating on the top line when Daniel Sedin found him streaking through the slot in typical Sedinian fashion. The other came on the man advantage: Mikael Samuelsson’s shot was bobbled by Cam Ward, and Jeff Tambellini put a no-look pass through a series of skates to give Raymond a wrister for his first of the year.

That same Samuelsson also scored his first goal of the year after Kevin Bieksa made a great read to keep the puck alive in the offensive zone. Sammy added two assists for good measure. Perhaps the Swedish Olympic team sent him another Dear Johan letter after the California road trip? Whatever, the man came through tonight with a solid effort despite being demoted to the third line.

Ryan Kesler again had several great chances early, and again he booted the puck. With an open net in the first period, he rang the puck squarely off the post. On a two-on-one in the second, he failed to even get a shot. Late in the third, however, Kesler took a soft power play pass from Christian Ehrhoff about fifteen metres out and rifled a one-timer into the top corner past Cam Ward.

Henrik Sedin had two assists tonight, tying him with Brad Richards and John-Michael Liles for the league lead with seven.

As mentioned, none of this comes as a shock against the AHL-quality roster of the Carolina Hurricanes. What was a surprise? How about the guy who opened the scoring. Andrew Alberts put home his own rebound from three metres out, finishing after some hard work by Manny Malhotra. Yes, true believers, Andrew freakin’ Alberts, for a few minutes in game five, had more goals on the season than Mason Raymond, Mikael Samuelsson and Ryan Kelser combined.

A truer test of this Canucks team comes soon – they play three games in four nights, including one against the dirty rotten stinkin’ Chicago Blackhawks, starting Tuesday. Look for Schneider to get at least one of those starts. And remember to break out the Sharpie when next year’s schedule comes out. You know, to circle the home date against the Canes.

Follow Jason Kurylo on Twitter. :: Subscribe to his hockey podcast, Pucked in the Head, on iTunes. :: Find out why the Carolina Hurricanes are just so awful.

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