Sep 23, 2013, 1:19 PM EST
“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.
For the Vancouver Canucks, we pick…goalie Roberto Luongo.
Full disclosure: we were going to pick Ryan Kesler for this, because 1) there’s quite a bit of pressure on Kesler to return to form, and 2) everyone’s kind of sick of the Canucks’ goaltending saga.
But we just couldn’t do it — nobody’s under more pressure this season in Vancouver than Luongo, for these reasons:
1) His reputation is on the line. Earlier this month, he said his goal is to “get back to where I was two years ago and re-establish myself as one of the best in the league.” Luongo finished the 2013 season with a .907 save percentage, his lowest mark since his rookie season with the Islanders.
2) There’s no legitimate Plan B for the Canucks. Vancouver’s backup is probably going to be Eddie Lack, a 25-year-old who’s yet to make his NHL debut and is coming off hip surgery. Which is to say, Lack is no Cory Schneider. Not yet anyway. If Luongo isn’t good, the Canucks could miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
3) The Olympics. Luongo wants to play for Team Canada again. “This is a big year for me,” he said. “I have been sitting on the bench for a while and I want to show everybody what I can do. We all know it’s an Olympic year so I just want to make the best of it.”
On top of all that, Luongo’s long-term future in Vancouver is far from clear, even though the 34-year-old is signed through 2021-22. Remember, the Canucks still have one of their compliance buyouts remaining. And while ownership was obviously loathe to use it this past summer, if Luongo struggles badly this season, the pressure from fans (a.k.a. customers) to use it next June will be immense. Vancouver hockey fans pay some of the highest ticket prices in the NHL. In return, they expect ownership to use its deep pockets to put the best team possible on the ice.
But that debate can wait for later, if necessary. (We don’t even want to get into the whole “Luongo might not actually mind getting bought out” angle.)
Luongo, by the way, didn’t get off to the best start in the preseason; on Wednesday, he allowed four goals in the first 12:24 versus the Oilers, including this stinker:
For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.
Dec 20, 2014, 4:24 PM EST
Larsson went to the AHL on a conditioning assignment.
Dec 20, 2014, 3:27 PM EST
Saturday’s slew of starting goalies.
Dec 20, 2014, 2:35 PM EST
Tampa Bay’s top goalie faced shots this morning.
Dec 20, 2014, 1:22 PM EST
Good luck trying to forecast their lines for Saturday.
Dec 20, 2014, 1:21 PM EST
In case you missed it.
Dec 20, 2014, 12:57 PM EST
They believe that it isn’t a long-term issue.
Dec 20, 2014, 12:00 PM EST
Dec 20, 2014, 11:32 AM EST
It’s unclear what the specific ailment is.
Dec 20, 2014, 10:40 AM EST
Absurd might be the right word.
Dec 20, 2014, 9:00 AM EST
As it turns out, the hockey exec’s name rhymes nicely with “must go.”
Dec 20, 2014, 12:09 AM EST
They label Jimmy Howard as day-to-day.
Dec 19, 2014, 11:32 PM EST
They fell to Winnipeg 2-1 on Friday.
Dec 19, 2014, 10:31 PM EST
Then again, maybe the Ryan – Zibanejad – Hoffman line was just that good.
Dec 19, 2014, 10:01 PM EST
A beauty in regulation and in the shootout.
Dec 19, 2014, 9:51 PM EST
Sven Andrighetto is back up while Eric Tangradi heads to the AHL.
Dec 19, 2014, 8:48 PM EST
They’re playing safe for “precautionary” reasons.
Dec 19, 2014, 7:43 PM EST
It’s been 2,599 days since that last happened.
Dec 19, 2014, 6:47 PM EST
Let’s hope it’s just that type of illness …
Dec 19, 2014, 6:40 PM EST
It’s almost starting to feel like he has mutant powers.
Dec 19, 2014, 6:28 PM EST
They recalled Alexander Wennberg and Cody Goloubef.
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- Sens roll over Ducks, who ‘weren’t ready’ 9
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- Gordie Howe makes ‘amazing’ recovery following stem cell treatment in Mexico 15
- Video: Penguins’ spoof of ‘Christmas Vacation’ is pretty good 18
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- Could Vermette land in Washington? 9
- Pens confirm Maatta has the mumps 5
- As holiday roster freeze approaches, Bruins linked to Oshie, Kassian 28