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 31, 2014, 12:41 PM EDT
Let’s make a big deal out of this, shall we?
Jul 31, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT
A “well-deserved” honor, according to Ed Snider.
Jul 31, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT
Beginning with the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. Click for the full 30-team schedule.
Jul 31, 2014, 10:22 AM EDT
Brandon Sutter next?
Jul 31, 2014, 9:51 AM EDT
Went 12-15-6 with a .913 save percentage last season for Ottawa.
Jul 31, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
But he also won’t require surgery.
Jul 31, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
All that and more, inside.
Jul 30, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT
They’ll face off against Canada and Russia at a tournament in Toronto next week.
Jul 30, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
Acquired last season in exchange for Krys Barch.
Jul 30, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT
“We’re moving along on that.”
Jul 30, 2014, 6:28 PM EDT
“We haven’t approached it in that respect.”
Jul 30, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
This time, it features just one plaintiff — former Bruin Jon Rohloff.
Jul 30, 2014, 4:34 PM EDT
Alternate captain notched a career-high in goals last year.
Jul 30, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
“Usually this isn’t the time to fight for the big contract.”
Jul 30, 2014, 2:35 PM EDT
Jim Hiller is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Todd McLellan, Paul MacLean, and Bill Peters.
Jul 30, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT
Finnish club is moving to the KHL next season.
Jul 30, 2014, 12:17 PM EDT
Arbitration hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
Jul 30, 2014, 11:28 AM EDT
After not giving him a qualifying offer.
Jul 30, 2014, 11:12 AM EDT
That’s Lacroix, when he was an assistant for Tampa Bay.
Jul 30, 2014, 10:44 AM EDT
Jim Hiller and Andrew Brewer join Tony Granato, who’s also new.
- Lindros, LeClair and Desjardins to be inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame 8
- It’s back! PHT’s Team of the Day summer series starts tomorrow 4
- Pens sign Spaling — two years, $4.4 million 12
- Agent: Subban hasn’t told me to make him NHL’s highest-paid D 28
- Devils sign Greene to five-year, $25M extension 18
- Subban seeking $8.5 million in arbitration, versus the Habs at $5.25 million 46
- Marchand on Plekanec: ‘I hate him. I can’t stand him’ 59
- Gettin’ paid: Gardiner inks five-year, $20.25M extension with Leafs 15
- Report: Trottier to join Sabres’ coaching staff 21
- Blues sign former eighth overall pick Mueller 31
- Cashing in: Rangers sign Brassard to five-year, $25 million deal (63)
- Marchand on Plekanec: ‘I hate him. I can’t stand him’ (59)
- Subban seeking $8.5 million in arbitration, versus the Habs at $5.25 million (46)
- Trotz plans to let Johansson, Kuznetsov, and Burakovsky compete for time at center (45)
- Richards: If not for the cap, half the league would want to play for Hawks (36)