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.
Oct 1, 2014, 12:00 AM EDT
Apparently they won’t hand him Cody Eakin’s two-year, $3.8 million deal.
Sep 30, 2014, 11:31 PM EDT
Here are some assorted goals for entertainment purposes.
Sep 30, 2014, 10:23 PM EDT
He’s reportedly asking for a hefty six or seven-year deal.
Sep 30, 2014, 9:25 PM EDT
Updated with GM Craig MacTavish’s comments.
Sep 30, 2014, 9:10 PM EDT
Buffalo was fearing a broken jaw, which would be even worse.
Sep 30, 2014, 7:27 PM EDT
It looks like the transition from Charles Wang’s ownership will ramp up soon.
Sep 30, 2014, 7:13 PM EDT
What a difference injuries and a nearing regular season makes …
Sep 30, 2014, 6:40 PM EDT
He says the “progress has been really good.”
Sep 30, 2014, 5:28 PM EDT
Will this be another season to forget for Toronto?
Sep 30, 2014, 4:26 PM EDT
Called him “the best defenseman on the ice.”
Sep 30, 2014, 4:12 PM EDT
Buffalo trims training camp roster to 30.
Sep 30, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
“We’ve got three games left here, so we really need to finalize what we’re going to do.”
Sep 30, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT
Both off to AHL Texas.
Sep 30, 2014, 3:17 PM EDT
“You don’t pay attention to that kind of stuff.”
Sep 30, 2014, 2:28 PM EDT
“I’m not naive, I know as the season goes on it’ll become more of a talking point.”
Sep 30, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT
D-man was likely headed to AHL Utica.
Sep 30, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
Looks like both have avoided serious damage.
Sep 30, 2014, 1:02 PM EDT
And they open at home on Oct. 10.
Sep 30, 2014, 12:49 PM EDT
So says Lindy Ruff.
Sep 30, 2014, 11:57 AM EDT
Flyers captain will make preseason debut at Wells Fargo.
- NHL Board of Governors approves Islanders sale 5
- Speedy recovery: Giroux (lower body) to play vs. Rangers tonight 9
- Risk Factors: Boston Bruins edition 12
- Hello Johansen? Boone Jenner out with broken hand 5
- Bruins release Leino; Boychuk staying put? 18
- Babcock doesn’t think this will be his last year with the Wings 9
- Starting tomorrow, PHT’s ‘Risk Factors’ Series 6
- Krug, Smith sign with Bruins 19
- PHT Morning Skate: Grigorenko with highlight-reel shootout goal 7
- Sabres lose Larsson, Kaleta to head injuries, Leafs’ Booth out too (Update: Franson’s hurt) 5
- Jordan Subban has ‘moved on’ after ‘unfortunate’ photo caption by Vancouver papers (52)
- Players pushed for coaching fines because they were ‘encouraged’ to dive (34)
- Sabres’ Nolan, Avalanche don’t believe in analytics (32)
- Ouch: Datsyuk (separated shoulder) out 4-5 weeks (27)
- Spooner scores, but coach Julien’s not happy (23)