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.
Jul 29, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
Spent last season with Lugano in the Swiss League.
Jul 29, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Y’know, everyday stuff.
Jul 28, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT
Jul 28, 2015, 9:38 PM EDT
Potentially a move to Switzerland, or the Czech League.
Jul 28, 2015, 8:39 PM EDT
Returning him to Rochester for a third time.
Jul 28, 2015, 7:39 PM EDT
Washington d-man is expected to miss the next two weeks of offseason training.
Jul 28, 2015, 6:26 PM EDT
Swiss winger came over from Calgary at last year’s deadline.
Jul 28, 2015, 4:39 PM EDT
Nice payday after posting a career-high in goals this season.
Jul 28, 2015, 4:23 PM EDT
“When you look at the structure of our salaries and our cap, it’s important to get those bottom-six cap hits in better shape.”
Jul 28, 2015, 3:21 PM EDT
With the Nurnberg Ice Tigers.
Jul 28, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT
Winning bid to be decided by the end of the year.
Jul 28, 2015, 1:45 PM EDT
“When the games mean something, that’s when he’s at his best.”
Jul 28, 2015, 1:21 PM EDT
The Blue Jackets have done well. The Canucks have not.
Jul 28, 2015, 12:34 PM EDT
Probably looking at another year of junior hockey.
Jul 28, 2015, 11:56 AM EDT
Busy day for Pittsburgh.
Jul 28, 2015, 11:40 AM EDT
Jul 28, 2015, 10:40 AM EDT
Could be a top-six winger. Could be a third-line center.
Jul 28, 2015, 10:08 AM EDT
Arbitration hearing scheduled for Thursday.
Jul 28, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
25-year-old didn’t file for arbitration, hoping instead to sign a long-term contract.
Jul 28, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
In the form of a cool $100,000.
- Flyers re-sign Couturier: six years, $26 million 31
- Benning calls Sutter a ‘foundation piece’ for Canucks 23
- Here’s a chart that shows which teams have been good/bad at drafting 36
- Penguins sign Fehr to three-year, $6 million contract 20
- Trade: Penguins send Sutter to Canucks for Bonino, Clendening 54
- NBC Sports to broadcast 105 NHL games in 2015-16 58
- Wilson signs with Preds, leaving just four arbitration cases to go 5
- Rangers sign Stepan — six years, $39 million 62
- Deal with the Devils: New Jersey re-signs Larsson to six-year contract 14
- Stepan seeks $7.25M in arbitration, Rangers counter at $5.2M 24
- Post expansion, could NHL realign with eight divisions? (138)
- He’s baaaaaack: Leafs pull a stunner, hire Lamoriello as GM (Updated) (84)
- Bettman says NHL would have to ‘consider’ putting Quebec City in the Western Conference (68)
- Rangers sign Stepan — six years, $39 million (62)
- NBC Sports to broadcast 105 NHL games in 2015-16 (58)