Will Luongo, Canucks Overcome Crease Conundrum?

Backup Cory Schneider Remains Key

Stanley Cup Champion and Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas was the key piece to the Boston Bruins’ success in last year’s playoffs, so much so backup Tuukka Rask didn’t register a game played all post-season.

In Vancouver, last year’s playoffs were a roller-coaster ride of big games and big blowouts for Roberto Luongo, forcing the Canucks to use Cory Schneider in five separate games during the post season.

Beginning a new season in which the backup looks as sharp as ever in net, the Canucks face a crease conundrum General Manager’s dream of- what do you do with two tremendously talented goaltenders?

Third-man-in Eddie Lack has shown flashes of brilliance for the Canucks but presently lacks the polish necessary for a NHL-ready goaltender. In the most recent round of cuts Lack was sent down to the new Canucks’ AHL affiliate the Chicago Wolves along with Jordan Schroeder, Mike Duco and Jann Sauve.

This leaves Luongo and Schneider, numbers 1A and 1B on the depth chart, to share the load to start the season, offering the potential for a crease controversy in Vancouver. “I know there’s been tremendous speculation of him going here, there or somewhere else,” Mike Gillis told Sportsnet earlier in training camp.

“We are hopeful to get Cory more starts this year and have Roberto as fresh as possible. We had an awfully long season last year and we are going to need contributions from everybody.”

Roberto Luongo to see less playing time?

After hiding his true veterans behind the army of players on tryout for the Canucks, Mike Gillis has proven he is aware of the physical stress his team will be under this season.

From an economic standpoint there may be no time like the present for the Canucks to cash in on Cory, however the unique position the team face this year gives more leverage to a platoon system, at least to start on opening night.

When asked in a recent NWSportsBeat poll I hinted Schneider won’t necessarily play the entire season with Vancouver, however following last year’s playoff collapses in the crease there is reason to believe Schneider could be a necessary alternative behind Luongo.

Despite a contract and salary that ultimately demands a starting role wherever he plays, Luongo has a curious past of cracking under big pressure. During the Olympics, on the biggest stage of his life to date, Luongo earned his weight in gold for Team Canada.

During the Stanley Cup Finals, Luongo cracked like an egg at the bottom of an over-filled grocery bag, overcome by the weight of media pressure and fan criticism, an experience he told The Province that has made him stronger.

“It’s about learning and growing. First of all it was a hell of an experience and you can’t take that away, whether you win or lose. Just the fact we’ve been through it once, if we have the opportunity to go again I know a lot of the guys will be comfortable in that situation in knowing what to expect.”


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About Kevin Vanstone

Born in Vancouver, and a student at UVIC. "The Flying V" follows all things Canucks hockey and covers the best in CIS athletics around the Pacific Northwest. He loves to write about the athletes that used to show him up in his playing days.
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