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 6, 2015, 4:39 PM EDT
Sweden led 3-0 at one point.
May 6, 2015, 3:56 PM EDT
Scored 63 goals and 118 points this year for Portland.
May 6, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
“It’s like a horse race — you can’t stand ten feet ahead of the finish line and determine who won a close race.”
May 6, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT
Had 89 points in 55 games.
May 6, 2015, 2:26 PM EDT
Yet the Wild coach is now staring it in the face.
May 6, 2015, 1:41 PM EDT
Teams will meet tonight and again tomorrow in Tampa Bay.
May 6, 2015, 12:54 PM EDT
“I’m still in between and weighing the options.”
May 6, 2015, 12:35 PM EDT
Calgary’s Bob Hartley is considered the favorite.
May 6, 2015, 11:59 AM EDT
Recently won a KHL championship.
May 6, 2015, 11:25 AM EDT
Reports now suggest Toronto’s interested.
May 6, 2015, 11:13 AM EDT
Deposition slated for no earlier than July.
May 6, 2015, 11:01 AM EDT
Fifth-round pick in 2011 spent all of this year in AHL Bridgeport.
May 6, 2015, 10:46 AM EDT
The same club that finished first in the league standings this year.
May 6, 2015, 10:01 AM EDT
They’ve certainly had more success in them in the 2015 playoffs.
May 6, 2015, 9:33 AM EDT
The former Sharks coach seems to have interest in Edmonton.
May 6, 2015, 8:56 AM EDT
Montreal hopes to avoid falling behind 3-0 in its series against Tampa Bay.
May 6, 2015, 8:04 AM EDT
Wednesday’s collection of links.
May 6, 2015, 2:31 AM EDT
Anaheim still leads the series 2-1.
May 6, 2015, 1:32 AM EDT
Facing elimination and possible sweep, Minnesota is frustrated.
May 6, 2015, 12:56 AM EDT
Quite a finish in Calgary.
- Canada fights back to beat Sweden at worlds 0
- NHL hockey ops explains no-goal call 25
- Jack Adams Award finalists to be announced tonight 4
- Video: Flames stun Ducks in OT to get back in the series 9
- Video: Controversial no-goal call on Flames 15
- Video: Crawford, Kane help Blackhawks push Wild to brink of elimination 53
- WATCH LIVE: Tonight’s Stanley Cup Playoff action 1
- Prust apologizes for all the stuff he said about referee Watson 49
- Flyers will be ‘extremely patient’ with youngsters, but ‘want a winner as soon as possible’ 25
- Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight 16
- Vigneault: ‘Standards have been set’ after Ovechkin, Backstrom hits (103)
- ‘You can’t win,’ ex-NHL ref Fraser says of Prust incident (83)
- Lightning’s Bishop silences Red Wings in hard fought Game 7 (81)
- Babcock won’t discuss future yet, but sees challenges ahead for Wings (79)
- New York second: Capitals stun Rangers for 1-0 series lead (76)