May 6, 2011, 4:48 PM EDT
Don’t blame the Vancouver Canucks for feeling good about themselves right now, although obviously they shouldn’t get too comfortable. Not after nearly coughing up a 3-0 series lead against the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round.
Warm-and-fuzzies aside, there are a few clouds in their sky.
Moving past the slightly worrisome play of the Sedin twins, the biggest concern could be the Canucks’ struggles holding onto leads. The Globe & Mail points out that the Canucks lead the NHL’s regular season with 100 third period goals, but lately, they’ve been far too happy to go in cruise control with leads. Vancouver Canucks blogger Alix Wright probably described it best on Twitter when she said, “The Canucks are AlainVigneaulting again.”
Rather than maintaining a high pace, high-pressure attack as a more offensively talented and dynamic team than the Nashville Predators, the Canucks elect to go into turtle mode and often find themselves in some nail-biters (including an overtime loss in Game 2).
The Globe & Mail seems to put most of the blame at the feet/pads of Roberto Luongo.
Twice this week against the Nashville Predators the Canucks let third-period leads slip away – both tying goals absolute groaners – and had to settle matters in overtime, losing once and winning once.
It happened again Thursday night when, up 2-1 heading into the third, yet another groaner – even if somewhat less egregious than the previous two – found its way between Roberto Luongo’s pads to tie a game in the final frame.
The victory was gratifying, as Vancouver has been by far the better team, but the late goal simply raised, once again, that old bugaboo concerning Luongo – can he win the games that truly matter?
It is the albatross around his neck, the gorilla on his back, the animal inside his head. It is a cruel knock that he has never been allowed to shed – not even with a gold-medal victory in last year’s Olympics, when Sidney Crosby’s goal allowed the thousands of Luongo doubters to take their first breath since the puck dropped in overtime.
Luongo had his rough moments in the Chicago series, but he bounced back masterfully in Game 7 and has been an elite performer since then.
In the last five games – three of which went into overtime – Luongo earned one shutout, allowed just one goal twice and never yielded more than two in any single contest. Overall, he let seven goals past him in that five-game span, making 142 out of 149 saves in the process.
I’m not sure how much more media members and fans can ask from him. Should he start scoring goals on a line with the Sedin twins? Maybe cure a disease or invent a cheaper, more environmentally-friendly form of gasoline? Sure, there have been a few “groaners” but there isn’t a goalie in the world whose resume spotless.
It’s also probably important to note that, you know, the Canucks are winning even if it isn’t always pretty. Those “blown” leads haven’t resulted in many losses, so Vancouver fans shouldn’t go into panic mode just yet.
If anything, the Canucks should make a self-assessment about how the team functions with lead as a a whole. Sometimes people refer to tallies that provide a two or three-goal lead as “insurance goals,” but the only premium one needs to pay is the risk of allowing a goal against.
Considering the fact that they’re allowing them anyway, maybe that’s an adjustment the team could make as they approach even bigger games.
- Ghost Time: Flyers recall Gostisbehere from AHL 7
- Trotz calls Healy’s comments on Ovechkin (and Ovechkin’s mom) ‘disrespectful’ 25
- Report: Billionaire wants NHL team in Vegas; new Coyotes owner ‘sees flipping the team as a good investment’ 22
- Chara has PCL tear, out 4-6 weeks 18
- Coburn, MacDonald out four weeks with lower-body injuries 16
- Red-hot Quick sets new Kings’ franchise shutout record 9
- Reports: Chara could miss at least 4-6 weeks with knee injury 13
- Video: Red Wings’ stars stun Penguins with late surge 31
- Report: Isles’ Bailey out indefinitely after breaking hand 3
- Dale Hunter: Ovechkin isn’t going to win the Selke, but he’s ‘coachable’ 13
- Video: Two quick third-period goals propel Flyers over rival Penguins (82)
- Updated: Kings’ Voynov arrested for domestic assault, suspended indefinitely (78)
- Babcock: ‘Price definitely initiates contact’ in disallowed Datsyuk goal (59)
- ‘It’s stupid': Tempers flare after Kesler’s late charge on Granlund (54)
- Lucic apologizes for obscene gesture: ‘I’m obviously not proud of what I did there’ (45)