Cory Schneider will make his sixth straight start Tuesday versus the Columbus Blue Jackets, a fact that has sent many into a tizzy. Isn’t Roberto Luongo usually the one that starts games? How come he’s not doing that lately? You probably already know our thoughts on the matter. Yesterday, Daniel looked at the faux goaltending controversy in which the Canucks are currently mired, and I am in complete agreement with him. This situation isn’t what it’s being made out to be. No, Roberto Luongo has not lost his starting job. No, the Canucks aren’t suddenly in possession of a backup signed through 2021. No, this isn’t the end of the Roberto Luongo era in Vancouver and Vincent Lecavalier has not been asked to waive his no-movement clause.
Still, while I’m loath to admit it, this is a pretty big story. Prior to this stretch, a healthy Luongo had never played backup for three consecutive games. Now he’s about to spot Schneider his fourth. This is unprecedented, and the unprecedented needs to be examined.
As Daniel said, this has nothing to do with Luongo. But I would add that it’s not even solely about Schneider — it’s about the entire Canucks lineup, all nineteen guys that have played their roles to perfection over this four-game winning streak, none of whom deserve to be plucked from the lineup just because someone has to come out. This is about Alain Vigneault sending a message to the whole room. That message is: continue playing well enough to win, and you will continue playing.
Heck, Luongo isn’t the only member of the Canucks that declared himself good to go over the weekend only to find out there wasn’t a place for him. Mason Raymond’s been at the ready since late last week; he’s been a healthy scratch. (He was slated to crack the lineup Tuesday night, but with Alex Burrows opting to play through the damage he took to his left ring finger on Saturday night, he’ll have to wait).
Aaron Rome is also on the outside looking in. After missing Friday’s game with a hand injury, Rome declared himself ready to play the following night, but he’ll sit for his second straight game.
Frankly, Vigneault’s decision to leave Rome and Raymond in the press box should be a much bigger story. Both have been accused of being coach’s pets for some time, and the fact that they’ve been looked over in consecutive games is a genuine twist. But everyone is so wrapped up in the non-troversy in goal that they haven’t seen the bigger picture here.
That’s a common theme in Vancouver, and frankly, it’s likely playing a major role in Alain Vigneault’s current strategy. In that sense, this situation does involve Luongo. While Funny Bob took much of the blame for both the Canucks’ Stanley Cup Final loss and their early struggles this year, Vigneault saw it for what it truly was: a team letdown.
His recent roster decisions are a clue to his players that the entire team plays a role in the ups and downs of its starting goaltender. Luongo may have been nominated for a Vezina, he and Schneider may have won the Jennings, and Schneider may be the one taking home NHL second star honours this week, but they didn’t earn those accolades on their own. It’s often said that shutouts are a team statistic, in that the play of the goalie is a reflection of the play of the team in front of him. Clearly, Alain Vigneault believes that to be true. The goaltending controversy is a team controversy.
In other words, Cory Schneider may be playing well enough to leave the starter on the bench, but so is everyone else. As long as that fact remains unchanged, the lineup will too.Tags: controversy, featured, Goaltending, spotlight, winning streaks