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.
Mar 12, 2014, 1:21 AM EDT
He received a minor penalty for the hit.
Mar 12, 2014, 1:04 AM EDT
JVR seems OK, though.
Mar 11, 2014, 11:48 PM EDT
Dallas moves into the second wild card spot for now.
Mar 11, 2014, 11:26 PM EDT
The San Jose Sharks aren’t happy about their game, either.
Mar 11, 2014, 10:52 PM EDT
And an interesting one overall for the East.
Mar 11, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT
Another memorable save for the icon.
Mar 11, 2014, 10:07 PM EDT
That’s eight in a row for Pittsburgh between these two teams.
Mar 11, 2014, 9:11 PM EDT
The contest featured his former team the Saginaw Spirit.
Mar 11, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT
The 20-year-old had been missing since March 3.
Mar 11, 2014, 7:49 PM EDT
On the bright side, there’s the Batmobile.
Mar 11, 2014, 7:19 PM EDT
The Pens have won seven in a row vs. Washington, including Monday.
Mar 11, 2014, 5:33 PM EDT
Because there’s a really good chance they will.
Mar 11, 2014, 4:56 PM EDT
Big development for the ‘Hawks.
Mar 11, 2014, 4:47 PM EDT
Click for the details.
Mar 11, 2014, 4:26 PM EDT
All the latest from the blue paint…
Mar 11, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT
“We played well in the first game, but then it all disappeared.”
Mar 11, 2014, 3:49 PM EDT
The sons of George and Brian, respectively.
Mar 11, 2014, 2:49 PM EDT
Whether he does or not will impact the Flyers’ roster.
Mar 11, 2014, 2:41 PM EDT
A big defenseman from Lake Superior State.
Mar 11, 2014, 2:18 PM EDT
Burly power forward’s in the midst of a disappointing season.
- Stars win one night after Peverley collapse, give Miller first Blues loss 3
- Crosby, Pens continue recent dominance of Ovechkin, Caps 19
- Terry Trafford’s body found in Michigan on Tuesday 8
- PHT Extra: What happens if the Caps miss the playoffs? 17
- Wings can’t afford regulation loss to Jackets 6
- ‘It’s obvious Tortorella can’t come back next year,’ writes Vancouver reporter 57
- NHL on NBCSN: Capitals fight to earn first win vs. Penguins in 26 months 11
- Vanquished: Isles stun Canucks with seven-goal third period 27
- Peverley asked to return to game following ‘cardiac event’ 23
- Peverley hospitalized, conscious after collapsing on Stars bench (Update) 19
- BLOCKBUSTER: Lightning trade St. Louis to Rangers for Callahan (82)
- Kings make splash, acquire Gaborik from Columbus (72)
- Steve Moore remains shocked, disgusted about Todd Bertuzzi attack (71)
- Chiasson ‘shaken up’ by Peverley incident, won’t dress for Stars tonight (70)
- ‘It’s obvious Tortorella can’t come back next year,’ writes Vancouver reporter (60)