Sep 23, 2013, 1:19 PM EDT
“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.
May 30, 2015, 1:08 AM EDT
Hard to blame the goalie in this one.
May 30, 2015, 12:17 AM EDT
“I don’t know if we’re so young and dumb and don’t know any better…”
May 29, 2015, 11:31 PM EDT
Might explain what occurred in the first period.
May 29, 2015, 10:55 PM EDT
Tampa Bay awaits the winner of the Blackhawks-Ducks series.
May 29, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT
Is it enough?
May 29, 2015, 9:53 PM EDT
Game 7 goes Saturday.
May 29, 2015, 8:54 PM EDT
Something to keep an eye on.
May 29, 2015, 8:21 PM EDT
Rangers also make one change to the lineup.
May 29, 2015, 7:20 PM EDT
The winner, as you know, goes to the Stanley Cup Final.
May 29, 2015, 6:39 PM EDT
“I’ve met with Nick several times and he knows he made a terrible mistake.”
May 29, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT
And it looks like Tomas Fleischmann might replace Emerson Etem, again.
May 29, 2015, 4:45 PM EDT
People like ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.
May 29, 2015, 3:49 PM EDT
Appeared in just 33 games this season.
May 29, 2015, 3:16 PM EDT
“I don’t feel any tingling or soreness.”
May 29, 2015, 2:18 PM EDT
NHL Central Scouting thinks slightly more of the B.C. defender.
May 29, 2015, 1:47 PM EDT
Spent the past five seasons in the KHL.
May 29, 2015, 1:34 PM EDT
That’s former NHL defenseman and current AHL Binghamton bench boss Luke Richardson.
May 29, 2015, 12:51 PM EDT
This according to his club team, Avangard Omsk.
May 29, 2015, 12:49 PM EDT
How does it compare to past promos?
May 29, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT
“The last two years, we were a different team.”
- Lightning ‘answer the challenge’ in Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final 2
- Vigneault: McDonagh was playing with a broken foot 12
- Bolts strike Stanley Cup Final berth thanks to Game 7 win over Rangers 63
- The Ducks got Kesler for a game like Saturday’s 31
- Duchene slams Russian players for storming off after Canada’s 2015 WHC win 54
- DeBoer predicts ‘big bounce-back’ in San Jose 13
- Sabres name Bylsma head coach 46
- Lundqvist on Game 7: ‘You’re definitely nervous, but it comes down to teamwork’ 18
- Report: Bylsma to Sabres being held up by compensation issue 56
- Stanley Cup Final to begin June 3 10
- Kesler on wearing down Chicago: ‘No human can withstand that many hits’ (77)
- Bolts strike Stanley Cup Final berth thanks to Game 7 win over Rangers (67)
- From healthy scratch to hero: Vermette scores OT winner for Blackhawks (66)
- Report: Bylsma to Sabres being held up by compensation issue (56)
- On Kreider, and trying ‘to turn the other cheek’ (54)