I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings, January 17, 2012

After a truly terrible effort against he Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, many predicted a strong start from the Canucks in this game against the Kings. Boy, were they wrong. The Canucks were absolutely awful in the first period, getting out-shot, out-chanced, and out-scored. It could have been a lot worse, but Roberto Luongo was phenomenal.

Just like in Luongo’s first season with the team, he stole a point for the Canucks, making 39 saves on 41 shots through regulation and overtime. Like Harrison from the press box, I watched this game.

Canucks 2 – 3 Kings (SO)

  • According to Jeff Paterson, Alain Vigneault had some choice words for the team after their poor performance during the first period. I like to think those words were “fugacious,” “asseverate,” and “malapert.” Those are some choice words.
  • Luongo couldn’t do much about the Kings’ first goal, however, as Dustin Penner was left alone in front to tip in Drew Doughty’s point shot. Canucks’ defencemen have been frequently employing “fronting,” where they will stand in front of the forward to block shots from getting through rather than getting tangled with a forward in a battle in front of the net. On this occasion, Rome was unable to get across to the shooting lane; it would have been far more effective for him to tie up Penner’s stick to prevent the tip-in.
  • For much of this game, the canucks’ breakout looked broken. The Kings forced a lot of turnovers with an aggressive forecheck and clogging up the neutral zone. The Canucks had 13 turnovers: 4 from Keith Ballard and 3 from Kevin Bieksa. A big issue was Bieksa’s nonchalant play. His passes, like old celery, lacked crispness. Pro-tip: wrap your celery in tinfoil.
  • The Canucks tied up the game just a couple minutes into the second period while on the powerplay. Daniel Sedin whipped a wristshot just inside the post with Ryan Kesler screening in front. I’m not entirely sure how Daniel managed to get his shot past Drew Doughty, who went down to one knee either so Daniel could knight him or so he could block the shot. Neither occurred, which is for the best: Sir Doughty sounds like the worst member of the Round Table. Pfft, like Merlin actually levitated that book. It’s all smoke and mirrors.
  • After a confrontation in a first period scrum, Keith Ballard and Colin Fraser squared off in a pretty tame fight. Fraser tried to fight Greco-Roman style, with the only actual punches being thrown by Ballard, even as he got jerseyed. It’s been a while since I’ve actually seen someone get jerseyed in a fight, however, and they removed their helmets pre-fight, so it seemed very old-school.
  • Also old-school: Darryl Sutter’s suit. And his face.
  • The Kings got a powerplay goal of their own late in the second on a controversial play. Dustin Brown pretty blatantly interfered with Alex Burrows, preventing him from getting into Willie Mitchell’s shooting lane. Still, Luongo should not have given up an ugly rebound on Mitchell’s weak point shot right to Justin Williams, who roofed it like a poorly thrown frisbee.
  • Wait a second, the Kings have Willie Mitchell on the powerplay? What?
  • Alain Vigneault shook up the lines every so slightly going into the third, busting David Booth down to sergeant the third line to start the third period. It immediately paid off as he finished off a great play by Cody “Silent G” Hodgson and Jannik “Danish Ninja” Hansen to tie the game. While Hodgson quietly impeded Mitchell, Hansen threw a cross-crease pass from the corner with the precision of a throwing star. Booth scored. He gets a boring verb because we don’t have a fun nickname for him.
  • Not long after, Booth fired a shot off Quick’s mask, knocking it clean off his head, inspiring the following tongue twister: Booth’s quick snap shot snapped off Quick’s cap.
  • The finish of this game will provide more fuel for the Luongo-is-terrible-in-shootouts fire. Thing is, the story was previously that Luongo could stop players who decided to shoot, but was helpless against the deke. In this game, he stopped Jack Johnson’s backhand deke easily, but was beaten cleanly by two nice wristshots from Justin Williams and Mike Richards. Like an actor who can’t read his lines, he flipped the script. It’s almost like it wasn’t true in the first place.
  • Meanwhile, only one Canucks shooter managed to score, which is rarely enough to win a shootout. Burrows scored by weaving in slowly, taking wide arcs left and right. The approach threw off Quick’s angle, so his shot blew past Quick on the blocker side, destroying the angels in Quick’s angles.
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49 comments

  1. Rory
    January 18, 2012

    I disagree, as I don’t think Both was demoted. It’s more like Cody Hodgson and Jannik Hansen were promoted to the second line.

    I would have hated this game more, if it was not for the fact that for some reason I think the Kings black and white uniforms are awesome. Good villains tend to be well dressed.

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    • warren
      January 18, 2012

      i agree with your point on the Phone being moved to Hodgsons line

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  2. fromthecorner
    January 18, 2012

    My twitter feed during regulation: “Luongo is amazing! He’s keeping us in the game!”
    My twitter feed during OT: “Luongo stole us a point at least and he’s keeping us in with a chance to win!”
    My twitter feed during and after shootout: “pfft. Luongo again. He was OK, but why don’t we hire a real goalie?”

    Myself, I thought he let us down by failing to arrange for his shooters to score during the shootout and by not placing his defencemen effectively during the first period. And if Luongo ever goes postal, we have only ourselves to blame.

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    • whisky jack
      January 18, 2012

      Like Skeeter Dan I watched this game
      As they got better frame by frame
      By which I mean the period first
      Was of the three at best the worst
      As early on were only seen
      Luongo and the twins Sedin

      But in the second on the ice
      I did see Kesler once or twice
      And Hamhuis hustling from the back
      Was often up on the attack
      I saw as well Max Lapierre
      Who passed the puck to no one there

      Then in the third Jen swears it’s true
      She saw Booth tie the game at two
      Having a shot of bathtub gin
      I didn’t see the puck go in
      Although I saw as well as you
      Some awesome saves by Bobby Lu

      Then what I didn’t want to see
      Was our not scoring in OT

      Whisky Jack

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  3. akidd
    January 18, 2012

    Lou was great. stole another point. but…

    “Thing is, the story was previously that Luongo could stop players who decided to shoot, but was helpless against the deke. In this game, he stopped Jack Johnson’s backhand deke easily, but was beaten cleanly by two nice wristshots from Justin Williams and Mike Richards. Like an actor who can’t read his lines, he flipped the script. It’s almost like it wasn’t true in the first place.”

    and this conclusion comes from one stopped deke? seriously?

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  4. Josh
    January 18, 2012

    I was AT this game.

    The first period was a real letdown, but I was entertained by the rest of the game. It’s really hard not to be when you’re actually there.

    Lui absolutely deserved that first star.

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  5. Zach Morris
    January 18, 2012

    Luongo has been full value these past few weeks, and he deserved to pass McLean tonight.

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    • Zach Morris
      January 18, 2012

      Also, I hate shootouts. It seems like the Canucks don’t take the shootout seriously, or at least Vigneault doesn’t.

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      • Zach Morris
        January 18, 2012

        “If the Canucks had come out any flatter Tuesday night, Dustin Penner would have eaten them.”
        -The Province

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    • Nick
      January 18, 2012

      Luongo has been “full value” this past few weeks? Granted, he’s been in net for a couple of bad games by the team. But his record over his past 10 starts is 3-7.

      Schneider’s record over that time is 3-0, including the win of the season over arguably the league’s best team.

      Luongo was the best Canuck against LA, no question, but saying he has been “full value” these past few weeks is a stretch. More like pretty average.

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      • Daniel Wagner
        January 18, 2012

        Wins are a team stat. Luongo can’t help that his team in front of him has been absolutely awful recently. Besides, his record over his last 10 starts is actually 4-4-2. In his 10 games before that, he was 8-1-1.

        Luongo has been superb recently, but has been let down by the team’s porous defence in front of him in some games. He has frequently looked like the only Canuck who bothered to show up for the game. Describing his play as “pretty average” is completely off-base.

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      • Zach Morris
        January 18, 2012

        In his last 12 starts, Luongo is 6-4-2 with a 0.932 SV% and a 2.08 GAA

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  6. Rituro
    January 18, 2012

    Can some enlightened observer please explain to me why the Canucks’ breakout plays have been absolutely atrocious as of late? Is it simply “they miss Sami” or are they trying to change up their game and failing miserably? I lost count of the bobbled pucks, bad passes and frustrated clearing attempts from the defensive zone. This does not look like the Canucks team that stormed to the top of the Western standings.

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    • Nick
      January 18, 2012

      I think it’s time for them to simplify. With Salo missing, the collective hockey IQ of their defense corps drops significantly. Part of this is on the coaches.

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  7. chicken chick
    January 18, 2012

    A Quatorzain For To Explain
    That In My Ass I Feel This Pain

    Mayhap they cannot play as “good”
    As everybody thinks they should
    It should be “well” it’s understood.

    I add that line lest the madwag
    Decides my little rhyme to slag
    I find his comments such a drag

    But I digress too far away
    From what it is I want to say
    About this game against LA

    As once again I was dismayed
    By the anemic way they played
    I think it’s time to make a trade

    Now is the time to shake things up
    If we’re to win Lord Stanley’s Cup

    Chicken Chick

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  8. Nee
    January 18, 2012

    “Also old-school: Darryl Sutter’s suit. And his face.”

    Lol. Thanks for that. This team is frustrating me right now, so it helps to laugh.

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    • The Bookie
      January 18, 2012

      Yeah I don’t remember him looking so much like Kurt Vonnegut.

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  9. JDM
    January 18, 2012

    I missed the first. If you take the remainder of the game on balance, the Canucks didn’t play particularly terribly, the Kings just played damned well. This is how the Kings should have played from game 1 of 82. It’s not surprising that that cast of guys can be this hard to play against. The Canucks didn’t play great in those 2nd and 3rd periods, mind you, but they weren’t as bad as they have been in a number of games recently.

    Here’s the thing that gets me… I know going into a shootout that we have little chance to win with Luongo in net. That’s not really a dig at Luongo, Carey Price is a great goalie and has similar issues with shootouts. It’s just not his thing. The Sedins are far and away our best offensive players but we don’t use them in shootouts because they just aren’t that good at it. Even Kesler doesn’t get a lot of shootout love. So why is it assumed that the goalie who started is the goalie who plays in the shootout? When Vigneault leaves the Sedins off the shootout list he’s not telling them he doesn’t have faith in them as go-to offensive players, they’re just not good at this particular all-star-skills-competition drill.

    Why can’t it be the same with Luongo? Thanks Luo, you carried us through 65 minutes and got us a point, now it’s time for an inning of relief pitching because we’re playing the percentages and Corey gives us a better shot. Vigneault needs to start doing this. Hell, Cunneyworth and other coaches who have a similar goaltending situation should consider it as well. \

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    • Daniel Wagner
      January 18, 2012

      I’ve heard this suggested before, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to throw in a cold goaltender in the shootout. It’s not just because a cold goaltender isn’t as good, it’s that they’re more susceptible to injuries, particularly since the shootout frequently requires goaltenders to stretch out desperately to make a save. I think it’s far too risky to throw a goaltender into that situation.

      Unfortunately, real life isn’t much like Mighty Ducks II.

      I think Luongo’s shootout performances are a bit deceptive; I don’t think he’s as bad as people think. Cam Charron wrote a good post a little while back pointing out how completely average Luongo’s shootout performance has been, even compared to other elite goaltenders.

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      • lucicandchong
        January 18, 2012

        “Unfortunately, real life isn’t much like Mighty Ducks II.”

        You take that back right now.

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        • Daniel Wagner
          January 18, 2012

          You have a point. Iceland is the team to beat in the hockey world.

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      • JDM
        January 18, 2012

        Even if that is true, I doubt the Canuck shooters are average. Consequently, the goalie kind of needs to be above average to have a decent shot. Schneider seems to be pretty decent at it – from the small sample we have – and curious minds want to know if this method would yield an extra, say, 2 points at the end of the season.

        With respect to cold goalies getting hurt, I have two comments. First, I don’t really think that the risk is what you make it. The goalie can stretch out before and during OT, and if there is an increased risk of straining something, I don’t think it’s massively inflated by not having played the prior 60 minutes. Arguably, the slight delay in reaction time that comes from fatigue and the resulting need to make a more sudden move would offset this. On the whole there’s really no way to know.

        The other point on this is that the better shootout goalie is usually not having to stretch to make acrobatic saves to keep his team in it. A shootout save usually just a matter of recognizing what the shooter is doing and positioning oneself accordingly. The fact that Luongo often misjudges or bites early leads to him having to stretch out on dekes a lot more than other goalies might, which arguably means that he’s at greater risk of injury from having to do so than other goalies would be, notwithstanding that he’s warmed up.

        On the whole there are arguments both ways and in each case they barely rise above speculation. Which is to say, I don’t think your points are all that clear-cut.

        Think about the possibility of having your backup be a “shootout specialist”, a la Jeff Tambellini or Kyle Wellwood. Being able to earn an extra couple points for your team in this situation could be a consideration when picking a backup in some markets – i.e., markets where the starter plays a metric ton of games but isn’t that great in the shootout. Which could easily be the Canucks, sans Corey Schneider.

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        • stathead
          January 18, 2012

          Dude. There are no shootouts in the playoffs. They’d be mad to fill the vital position of backup goalie with someone whose main strength means nothing in the playoffs.

          All goalies seem to agree that it’s hard to come in cold during a game rather than starting it, and that the later you come in, the harder it is.

          And I’m a big fan of C-Wall, but don’t assume he’s good at shootouts: for that to be fact rather than opinion,

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  10. bergberg
    January 18, 2012

    Wow, does wrapping your celery in tin foil really work? I’ve never heard that before.

    Learn something new every day.

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    • Prep Cook Zach Morris
      January 18, 2012

      if you have limp celery, (and no that is not a euphemism) you can just put in in the fridge in a container half-full of water and it’ll be crunchy in no time.

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      • bergberg
        January 19, 2012

        can there be a cooking edition of PITB?

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  11. Chris
    January 18, 2012

    Silly Daniel, Booth already is a sergeant, Chief.

    It’s all I can do not to change the channel when overtime ends. The shootout is SOOOO stupid, I complain about it win or lose. It’s the worst thing about the NHL right now, excepting perhaps the Boston Bruins.

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  12. Bluetouque
    January 18, 2012

    An abysmal first period followed by some excitement the rest of the way almost made it worth watching. My favorite play was Kesler pushing Burrows with this stick during overtime so Burrows could backcheck faster. That’s using your team-mates.

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  13. PT
    January 18, 2012

    I suggest “Powers” Booth

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  14. sarah
    January 18, 2012

    I don’t know if we can do this, but I’d really like to see a PITB column on second period stats. It seems, to me at least, that the Canucks haven’t “won’ a second period in a very long time. Last night both teams scored one goal in the second and I think that was one of their best second periods in some time…

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  15. PrairieBoy
    January 18, 2012

    After this game, I asseverated to my son, “Don’t worry, the Canucks will turn around their game.”

    He malapertly replied, “Yeah, when Vancouver freezes over!”

    His devotion to the Canucks is fugacious.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      January 18, 2012

      Choice words.

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  16. Prophet
    January 18, 2012

    Is it just me or does anyone else ever considered that perhaps it’s the Canuck SHOOTERS that suck? We don’t have a single bona fide shootout scorer that is over 40%. When Hodgson is our best shooter, I think we got a problem. When we need our goalie to stop all three shots to win a game, it’s pretty unfair for the goalie. Against Tampa, the only goal that the Canucks can muster is a cheesy Raymond spinorama, and Corey had to be perfect. What happened to all that speed and skill? Most of the shots against opposing are so weak that John Garrett could still stop most of them. Did you see that Richards shot that beat Lu? Do you think most goalies would have stopped that? I don’t think Quick would have stopped that either.

    Does anyone ever watch soccer shootouts? If the shooter makes a perfect kick, it is almost impossible for the goalie to save. If he misses, then he drops like he’s been shot because he knows he’s the goat. In hockey, it seems like the onus is on the goalie to make the save regardless of how good the shot was, and the blame never falls to the shooter no matter how weak his attempt was. I don’t blame Luongo for losing the shootout. I blame the shooters for a pretty poor effort and never getting more than 1 out of 3 against the opposing goalie.

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    • JDM
      January 18, 2012

      The Canuck shooters are not great at shootouts. This is partly because our three best offensive players (the Sedins and Kesler) are bad at shootouts and aren’t called upon. We don’t have a Tomas Vanek, an elite offensive talent who is a good bet to score on any given penalty shot. So we have to rely on offensive depth.

      That being said, the general average of shooters in the league on penalty shots is well under 50%. Consequently, in any given shootout, 1 of 3 is the norm. Allowing more than 1 of 3 is a departure from the norm for the goalie, stopping all 3 is as well. Luongo lets in more than 1 of 3 routinely, last night included, and our shooters aren’t good enough to make up for this. It’s a combination of both.

      That said, maybe it’s time to let the Sedins take another whack at it. They aren’t the same players as they were in 2008.

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    • stathead
      January 18, 2012

      You’ve got that right. I’m new to hockey & mystified by all the comments about the goaltender failing to win games, which you never hear about football goalies in UK. In my twitter feed last night: “Pretty good game by Luongo, but you have to stop more than one in the shootout to win the game.” Um, not if your shooters score. And some reporter said that Luongo is struggling to beat the franchise record (his next win). Who could watch his performance yesterday and write that he’s struggling?

      Thanks for link to great blog post which shows the actual shootout numbers, including “Luongo’s shootout save percentage is .672, good for 25th place, in between Carey Price (.678) and Tomas Vokoun (.671).” (BTW, there’s a typo in the next line – should read .688). And here I thought I would never read the Province’s hockey stuff again after that staggering editorial about trading Luongo for some Florida centre last autumn.

      People just make these stories about the shortcomings of other people, and then they have to believe them and see only what makes them true, in life as well as in sport.

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  17. PeeSeeGee
    January 18, 2012

    Harrison gets to watch from the press box, you still have to write IWTG about a terrible game. You need a better representative in these negotiations.

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  18. DanD
    January 18, 2012

    I think the thing that concerned me most about this game is that Kesler seemed almost unnoticeable I can understand having a couple of bad games, but it’s starting to look like he’s not quite himself.

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    • DanD
      January 18, 2012

      Umm, just imagine there’s a period after “unnoticeable.” Oops!

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  19. iceman
    January 18, 2012

    Although we lost in the shootout and I despise shootout as much the next guy, it’s not the shootout that I’m worried about (okay, enough shootouts already!)

    My grave concern right now is our defensive breakdown since the Boston game. We keep getting caught out of position allowing 2-on1, 3-on-2 rush almost every two minutes. We leave the neutral zone so wide open that the other team can waltz across our blue line with virtually no resistance. And finally, the horrible giveaways in our own zone… It almost looks like we have a ‘puck magnet’ hidden in the ice under our own net.

    Is it all because of not having Sami Salo in the line up? I certainly understand we have a problem with defensive pairings, but this is just too drastic of a drop-off for losing one defenceman. All that defensive “depth” doesn’t mean much when nobody steps up.

    We must be having a “Sami-crisis”…

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    • JDM
      January 18, 2012

      Honestly, I have noticed this kind of stuff happening since the December 23rd game against the Flames. That was a poor effort all over the ice that ended in a loss because of a missed assignment which left a guy wide open in front of the net. Since then, it’s been a coin toss as to which version of the Canucks would show up to a game.

      Salo’s absence makes a difference because as noted in the IWTG the breakout is broken, and Salo’s first pass is arguably the best on the team. It also throws a wrench in the pairings, as has been discussed time and time again by Harrison and Daniel. The combination of those two factors contributes to a lot of the discombobulation and disorganization that we’ve been seeing.

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  20. shoes
    January 18, 2012

    It is time to panic and feed the trolls. If the team is so fricken bad, how come they still right there up in the clouds. Relax…first of all nothing seems to trigger a slump in a team, quite like having a really tough schedule with successful results and then switching to a benign game every 3 to 4 nights. It is brutal, because bag skates only work on teams that are way down low…..and apparently hard to get up for the game after laying on the coach for 4 days.

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  21. akidd
    January 18, 2012

    uh, are people actually trying to make a case that lou is not that bad in shootouts? some pretty stubborn theorists out there. i don’t see shootouts as part of the game so i don’t judge a player’s overall hockey ability based on shootouts. the sedins suck at shootouts. fine. they are still great players. lou sucks at shootouts. fine he’s been playing great recently. but…

    i can’t believe how stubborn you can be about this stuff, daniel. lou loses shootout after shootout and he’s not that bad, stops one deke and turns theories on their head. you’re great on other stuff but you sure like to pick and choose your observations when concerning pet theories.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      January 18, 2012

      Did you click through to the post Daniel linked? Nobody’s saying Lou is *good* at shootouts. But he’s not bad. His shootout record is right smack dab at the mean. He’s just… average. And Cory Schneider’s not much better, albeit the sample size is extremely tiny.

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      • stathead
        January 18, 2012

        Well, he’s average for the NHL goalies, anyways. I can’t get over how weird it is – if he’d failed on one of his monster saves in the third period and we lost, everyone would be talking about his heroic effort and how he was the only Canuck there for the full 60 minutes. But he actually steals a point for the team, and everyone goes on and on about this one perceived weak point in his game – one which is totally irrelevant in the playoffs, and which the numbers prove is actually not that weak.

        In case it cheers anyone up, the Bruins lost to Tampa Bay the other night. It cheered me up. I’m a mean person.

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      • akidd
        January 18, 2012

        those stats are for his whole career. more recently, he’s been pretty bad, i believe. beyond stats, he just looks awkward in shootouts. as do the sedins. that’s fine. shootouts are silly. but it’s also a bit silly to keep defending lou’s shootout performances. i’m sure that lou himself would agree. the whole team has a disdain for shootouts and it shows.

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        • Harrison Mooney
          January 18, 2012

          This debate depends on your opinion of “defending”. As I said, we’re not saying Lou’s shootout performances are good. But we are saying they’re not *nearly* as bad as the narrative would suggest.

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          • akidd
            January 18, 2012

            i just took my own tour of the nhl shootout stats and i suggest you guys do the same. instead of just career stats go year by year. this year(1-4 .429 s% )and last year(3-5 .538 s%) are the worst but generally it makes the point that while career-wise his numbers are just poor, recently, they are really bad.

            if we’re talking about loungo then more recent,post-groin injury stats are of the most interest as are post-9/10 playoff disapointment stats. up until then no one had a bad word to say about him.

            so ya, go check the yearly stats and see for yourself. don’t forget to notice that lou is no.1 in shootout losses(31) among active goalies. also that you have to go back until 06-07 until lou has a winning season in the shootouts.

            sorry to labour this point but it kinda felt like i had to. people see stats maniputlated in a certain way and they think it’s the truth. “seeing things that aren’t there” like i said in the last drance numbers’ comments. saying lou is not bad but actually just average because of the way a guy presents some stats(the article daniel linked to) is just that, seeing things that aren’t there. trust your observations, or failing that, go look at the raw data. lou is bad at shootouts.

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            • Daniel Wagner
              January 19, 2012

              I’m aware of the stats. The main issue is, again, sample size. We have just 5 games from this season to work with and just 22 shots. I don’t think that’s enough to draw the conclusions that people have about Luongo’s abilities in the shootout. That’s why I think it’s important to look at larger amounts of data; that’s why Cam used career data to write his article.

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              • akidd
                January 19, 2012

                lou was better earlier in his career but hasn’t had a winning shootout season since 06/07. no one disputed lou’s greatness until about 3 years ago. it’s lou post groin injury, post playoff shellshock that we’re worried about. those are the stats that count. it’s an evolution. where is he at now? is he good at shootouts? no. he’s bad at shootouts. is that restaurant good? well it was good ten years ago, hasn’t been good for five years and is terrible these days. i guess it’s average. it’s disingenuous to say that.

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