Sep 23, 2013, 1:19 PM EST
“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 2, 2015, 11:23 PM EST
Kimmo Timonen and Antoine Vermette made their debuts.
Mar 2, 2015, 10:49 PM EST
San Jose beat Montreal 4-0 on Monday.
Mar 2, 2015, 9:56 PM EST
An impressive effort for a team going all-in.
Mar 2, 2015, 9:03 PM EST
Then again, Taylor Beck’s helper might have been better.
Mar 2, 2015, 8:14 PM EST
He’ll pair with Sergei Gonchar to start.
Mar 2, 2015, 7:31 PM EST
Adding versatility in a tough West.
Mar 2, 2015, 6:49 PM EST
Quite a rebound from a scary lacerated arm.
Mar 2, 2015, 5:59 PM EST
“We were looking to upgrade, add more of a veteran presence.”
Mar 2, 2015, 5:49 PM EST
“It’s just hard to get a deal done, and you see the prices are so high.”
Mar 2, 2015, 5:25 PM EST
Was it just a sellers’ market?
Mar 2, 2015, 5:10 PM EST
He gets a no-trade clause in the first year of the deal.
Mar 2, 2015, 5:09 PM EST
“Devastating” news for the Calgary Flames.
Mar 2, 2015, 4:47 PM EST
He was scheduled to become a restricted free agent after this season.
Mar 2, 2015, 4:00 PM EST
All the latest leading up to 3 p.m. ET…
Mar 2, 2015, 3:57 PM EST
They were “adamant” about bolstering their blue line.
Mar 2, 2015, 3:44 PM EST
Second trade of the day for Boston.
Mar 2, 2015, 3:38 PM EST
Former 13th overall pick.
Mar 2, 2015, 3:20 PM EST
A 31-year-old for a 23-year-old.
Mar 2, 2015, 3:15 PM EST
For the price of a second-round pick in 2017.
Mar 2, 2015, 3:07 PM EST
Busy day for Montreal.
- Rutherford: ‘Our guys felt very strongly about reacquiring’ Lovejoy 37
- Winners and losers of the 2015 trade deadline 59
- Giordano to have surgery, is ‘done for the season’ 18
- PHT’s 2015 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker 35
- Ducks get their veteran d-man, adding Wisniewski from Columbus 12
- Lovejoy returns to Pittsburgh for Despres 50
- Wild get Stewart as Buffalo-to-Minnesota pipeline continues 53
- Jordan Leopold’s daughter may have orchestrated the Minnesota trade 17
- Wings get Zidlicky from Devils 68
- Can the Wings and Leafs work out a deal for Phaneuf? 49
- Wild beat Avs, dying seconds fight set stage for rematch (171)
- Petrovic: Chicago will ‘probably seek revenge’ for Kane injury tonight (82)
- Trade: Blackhawks acquire Vermette from Arizona for Dahlbeck, first rounder (74)
- Report: Alex Petrovic avoids discipline after injuring Patrick Kane (69)
- Trade: Rangers land Yandle, Coyotes receive Duclair, first-rounder (69)