Roberto Luongo is pretty awful in Minnesota, but so are his teammates

The 2011-12 season has given rise to an infuriatingly lazy narrative: every start Roberto Luongo doesn’t get is now seen as evidence that the Canucks don’t have faith in his ability to win versus a certain team or in a certain building. Schneider gets the start in Boston? The Canucks don’t trust Luongo to win at the TD Garden. Schneider gets the start versus Chicago? Not only are the Canucks afraid to play Luongo in Boston — now they don’t even trust him to tend the pipes against their biggest rival!

Nevermind that Luongo has started in Chicago this season and only missed out on a second start because he was injured — every non-start is a condemnation. (I can’t wait for Schneider to get the start in the last game of the season. You know someone is going claim it’s a playoff tuneup.)

All this in mind, you had to know that, when Cory Schneider got the nod Thursday for the Canucks’ road game versus the Minnesota Wild, people were going to deduce that this was yet another showing of Luongophobia, especially with Funny Bob’s career numbers in the land of 10,000 lakes. From Jason Botchford at The Province:

Cory Schneider will get his fourth straight start in the Xcel Energy Center. Head coach Alain Vigneault said it’s just Schneider’s time to play, dismissing the idea he’s trying to avoid Luongo confronting his personal house of horrors.

Boston, you got nothing on this place.

Luongo’s lifetime record in Minny is 3-9-1. He has a 3.56 GAA and an .873 save percentage.

Botchford doesn’t explicitly claim that Schneider’s start is due to Luongophobia — he’s just making the suggestion. Damien Cox, on the other hand, is clearly a terrible Clue player, because he goes straight for the accusation:

(Typical Torontonian, always out to get Luongo… give Lu his assist!)

Now, Alain Vigneault asserted that the decision had nothing to do with Luongo’s road record versus the Wild, but Vigneault seems to find great amusement in misleading and alarming the media, especially when it comes to his goaltenders, so it’s hard to take him at face value. Plus, when you look at the numbers, it certainly makes a lot of sense. Sure, Luongo hasn’t surrendered a goal to the Wild in two games this season, but both shutouts came at home — that road record is truly abysmal.

But I don’t think that’s what’s going on here, especially because I don’t think Luongo has been the sole issue in most of these games. He’s awful in Minnesota, to be certain, but the Canucks play terribly as a team in the Xcel Energy Center and their recent record without him supports this.

For instance, despite presumed Minnesota Miracle Man Cory Schneider getting the start in the last visit to St. Paul, the Wild still won the game 5-1. Last season, Schneider picked up a 4-1 win in Minnesota, but that was only after the Canucks suffered a 4-0 loss.

Cory Schneider’s career record when starting in Minnesota: 2-3-0 with a 2.40 GAA and a .905 save percentage, and that’s including a 2-1 win in 2008-09, when he was called up from the AHL due to a Roberto Luongo injury and wound up collecting his first career NHL victory. It may not seem like that long ago, but consider that Willie Mitchell was the second star in that game and Jason Jaffray scored the game-winner. It was ages ago.

Over his starts since becoming the Canucks’ full-time backup last season, Schneider’s 1-3-0 with a 3.33 GAA and a .898 save percentage in Minnesota. Better than Luongo’s numbers, sure, but not by much.

In short, it doesn’t matter who’s in net versus the Minnesota Wild, and if Alain Vigneault is starting Schneider because he believes it does, he’s as foolish as the people driving this narrative.

He isn’t. This start has nothing to do with Luongo.

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36 comments

  1. Cathylu
    February 9, 2012

    I’m not a Lu hater (in fact I’m usually defending him when my husband is yelling at the TV for Lu to get off his belly) but I’ll be happy to watch Cory play tonight. I hope he helps us get a win.

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  2. J21
    February 9, 2012

    For instance, despite presumed Minnesota Miracle Man Cory Schneider getting the start in the last visit to Minneapolis, the Wild still won the game 5-1.

    I wonder if any Minnesotans reading this blog are going to take issue with you placing their arena in the state’s Henrik rather than its Daniel…?

    In all seriousness, it’s very possible that the Wild could be the Canucks’ first-round playoff opponent. Assuming The Province hasn’t seized control of the team and Luongo will be the starter for the series, I would be marginally worried about a self-fulfilling prophecy creeping in here. Luongo knows he’s had some stinkers in the building, and if it’s been a while since he played there, even if the reasons are innocent enough, there will be a lot of ink spilled about it and you wonder if it could toy with his confidence a bit when he has to play there again.

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    • J21
      February 9, 2012

      Actually switch the Sedins in my analogy above — the capitol building should probably equal the captaincy.

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    • J21
      February 9, 2012

      Oho, I see you sneakily changed it to St. Paul. I can hear torches being extinguished and pitchforks shelved across the eastern part of the Twin Cities. :P

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      • Harrison Mooney
        February 9, 2012

        I did indeed. After reading your comment, I Googled it, realized I had the wrong twin city, and made the change.

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  3. Ian
    February 9, 2012

    They should just call up Lack

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  4. bergberg
    February 9, 2012

    Astonishingly amusing alliteration, Mr. Mooney.

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    • madwag
      February 9, 2012

      assuredly acceptable assonance, brer bergberg.

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  5. Mt
    February 9, 2012

    Love your articles, guys, but do you need to do incessant PR for Lu? I keep this stuff expecting your usual quality but it seems to always come across as the same thing—a one sided argument against the supposed goalie-controversy-pushers.

    It’s like you’re mad at a horse for eating the grass (idiots and media will make controversies where none exist) and proceed to beat it–to death. Following, a few more articles pummeling the carcass for good measure are far enough but it has to end sometime.

    As for the rest of your work–well done; keep it up. As for future Luongo-CS argumentation, please drop it. Sorry to jump in with criticism but it’s only because I like the rest of what you do so much more that I can be sincerely disappointed.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      February 9, 2012

      This one isn’t really a Luongo defense so much as it’s a “this has nothing to do with Luongo” angle. But yes, we do return to this scene quite a bit. Blame everyone else. We’re just responding to the conversation.

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      • Mt
        February 9, 2012

        Exactly! The conversation you are “just responding to” is a boring one, driven by a content impoverished media and fan-base. We spend a lot of attention caring about a hockey team. I’ve played on hockey teams–there’s just only so much content there–it’s a hockey team. So everyone rehashes the same lame debates and reports quotes that read like bad press releases as if they are somehow illuminating and not just non-though put to speech. You guys do a good job in adding some fun and some more intelligent analysis into the mix. You define different terms of debate–not just auto-article production.

        But then … you jump into the same boring conversation.
        Maybe it’s just me. I know that a lot of other people care. I do even care, and mostly agree, I guess I just feel like you’re stooping. Something like yelling back at an obnoxious person.

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    • JS Topher
      February 9, 2012

      As history has proven, sometimes it’s worth fighting a battle even when it seems you just can’t win.

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      • Harrison Mooney
        February 9, 2012

        Not to mention that, even though we’ll never win this war, we can refute every lazy claim because it’s fun.

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    • Nick
      February 9, 2012

      If it’s only about this year and next, then Luongo should be the guy to stay.

      If it’s about have a strong, competitive future for years to come; then Schneider is the guy.

      I prefer Schneider … and hope that Gillis is creative enough to move Luongo while he still has reasonably good trade value.

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  6. akidd
    February 9, 2012

    whatever the narrative i’m just happy to see schneider get another start. guys stones the bruins then sits. guy stones the hawks then sits. if folks want to get up in arms about goalie stuff then how about that schneider has not had a bad game all year but still he sits and sits.

    lou has been playing great but it feels like you guys are pretty firmly entrenched about who your favourites are.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      February 9, 2012

      Actually, we’re not. This isn’t a bias issue in the slightest. I like both goalies equally, I’m fine with either as the starter, and I’m happy to rip on either when they’re the issue. I just get annoyed by the lazy, slanted reporting Luongo gets. If Schneider were the regular starter, it’d be the same thing and my posts on him would probably be very similar to this one.

      And Schneider has had a handful of pretty bad games. The aforementioned loss to the Wild. The 5-1 loss to the Blackhawks. The 3-0 loss to the Blues. The 6-5 loss to the Predators where he gave up 3 goals on 5 shots and was pulled… but for whatever reason, these games are chalked up to the team playing poorly, whereas if Luongo’s in goal for them, he’s to blame. This is all I’m trying to say here.

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      • akidd
        February 9, 2012

        not so fast there. blues and hawks were in oct and early nov. can’t remember them exactly so i won’t defend but i do remember the whole team was really bad then. and don’t try that revisionism about the pred game. those goals included a strange deflection and a weber blast from the circle. av couldn’t wait to pull him. the canucks made a pushback and lou let in the winner.

        and after reading this blog for awhile now i’d have to say that you guys really do come off with a lou preference. your grades gave lou a B and schneider a B. lou stunk early season but has played great since which makes his grade a fair one but schneider has been excellent all year and easily deserved an A. that is pretty good proof of a bias. it’s fine, just human nature, but bias is pretty clearly there imo.

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        • Harrison Mooney
          February 9, 2012

          Schneider stunk early season too. And yes, the whole team was bad then, but that’s my point: you’re giving Schneider a pass for his early-season struggles because the team wasn’t playing well but you’re treating Luongo as though he had a different team in front of him. I counter your accusation of bias with a similar accusation of bias. J’accuse!

          As for the grades, Schneider would definitely get a B+ to Luongo’s B, but I wasn’t able to give pluses or minuses since we were going on the same poll as the Sun. And, since I felt neither deserved an A or a C, they both wound up with the same grade.

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          • akidd
            February 9, 2012

            thanks for the response and sorry to get beating this horse here. i’ll leave it alone for awhile, i promise, but first, could you explain exactly why you think that schneider doesn’t deserve and A for his work so far this season?

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            • Harrison Mooney
              February 9, 2012

              He’s been really, really good lately, but like I said, he was really shaky in the opening parts of the season, and that’s what does it for me. Plus, I’m a Humanities student, where an A is reserved for truly standout performances. It annoyed me then; now I’m the problem. ;-)

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              • akidd
                February 9, 2012

                ‘early season’? are you referring to when lou got hurt and he held the fort and went on a long winning streak, partly with lou on the bench ,until av jumped at his chance to pull him after one period?

                while not being ‘bill clinton’ evasive you weren’t exactly forthcoming there. i was hoping you could be more specific. that you weren’t is because you couldn’t be(because shcneider wan’t so shaky early) which leaves me to think that you didn’t want to give schneider a better grade than lou. that’s what i think.

                tough teacher? well…bieksa got an A.

                sorry to corner you. if you like lou better there’s nothing wrong with that. just don’t let contratianism or being miffed at lazy shots at lou cloud your judgement. this is hockey. it’s too important;) both lou and schneider have been playing great this year, carrying the team lately, and i want them both to have success.

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              • Harrison Mooney
                February 9, 2012

                Okay, so you’re choosing to ignore the actual early season — and I mentioned some of those games earlier in this debate — when Schneider was incredibly shaky, in favour of the streak he went on after it. Then you’re claiming this corners me and proves my bias, when all it proves is that I don’t share your bias. Clearly this discussion is impossible.

                I don’t like Lou better. I can’t be more clear than that. And I stated in the previous comment that Schneider would have been given a better grade. But I don’t feel like I’ll be convincing you of any of this so let’s just agree to disagree.

                And Bieksa’s been excellent.

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              • akidd
                February 9, 2012

                harrison, i ‘m feeling like a rude guest doing it but i guess i just want you to admit that schneider has had an excellent season and deserved an A from you. if you don’t want to ‘change the grade’ then like a pushy student i would like you to explain what could have been done better.

                you mentioned four games. i already gave my opinion on the nashville 1 period. in the 5-1 wild game from memory i believe schneider made fantastic save after fantastic save keeping the team in it in a game that could have easily been 10-1 and about which some players said was their worst game in a canuck uniform.

                i can’t remember the blues and hawks games and i’ll admit that i didn’t watch every early game as i was still recovering from the playoffs. i believe the whole team was terrible early but if schneider was particularly terrible i’ll give you that.

                considering how schneider got the ‘winning ball’ rolling when lou was hurt and how he has performed so well coming in every fourth game or so playing against some top teams and under some extreme pressure i just don’t see how anyone could say ‘not quite good enough’ to him but that is what you’re saying.

                again i’m sorry to come off so strong on such a polite blog. i do realize that this blog is about more than hockey and i appreciate that, and your responses.

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      • Jo
        February 9, 2012

        I was at the game where Schneider received a standing ovation after flubbing it behind the net and then making a miraculous save. Of course, if Luongo had done that no one would have jumped out of their seats and we’d all be talking about how lucky he was to make the save after coughing up the puck. Luongo is in a no-win situation because he’s making the big bucks. Personally, I think he’s handling his role much better this year. We need BOTH of them to win the cup this year so I hope fans get behind both of them.

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  7. Yuri
    February 9, 2012

    I’m surprised, Mr. Mooney, at your willingness to reply to every shallow moron, who has, probably, barely managed to summon all his focus and patience to be able to fully understand the irony and humour you guys parlay.
    I love every piece you two compose. You possess exactly my sense of humour, I’m just not smart enough to be able to express it, but enough to appreciate it.
    Thank you.

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    • akidd
      February 9, 2012

      yuri, something about a rolling donut came to mind after reading your post.

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  8. J21
    February 9, 2012

    On the topic, I noticed that while the bloggers have been alternating the last little while, not long ago, Harrison made three consecutive posts while Daniel sat on the bench. Is Wagner out of favor with management? Is he being dealt to Battle of California? Is Drance ready to take his job? #BloggerControversy

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    • Joe P.
      February 9, 2012

      Daniel’s got a history of mediocre posts on days starting with the letter ‘T’ and occuring on odd-numbered dates lower than 10. Clearly the Sun is protecting him.

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      • Harrison Mooney
        February 9, 2012

        Sounds to me like Daniel’s just not clutch.

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    • sgolesor
      February 9, 2012

      I would point the finger at Daniel’s agent for getting you to question his blog-time, but I don’t want to get a giant essay from him in reply.

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      • Harrison Mooney
        February 9, 2012

        You might get one anyway. Daniel’s pretty long-winded, amirite y’all?

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    • Daniel Wagner
      February 9, 2012

      It’s nice having a new baby because I can blame every failure of mine on him. For instance, as I was typing this reply, Ozzy grabbed my finger and wouldn’t let go, meaning this comment took twice as long to compose.

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      • madwag
        February 9, 2012

        danielson

        one trusts that in the future he won’t blame all his failings, not that he will have many, on you.

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      • J21
        February 9, 2012

        “Injuries are no excuse.”

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  9. JS Topher
    February 10, 2012

    Say what you want about Daniel’s inconsistency but, if you ask me, I think Harrison just sort of hit a hot streak. The bounces were going his way and he was getting a lot of production. Don’t get me wrong, Harrison’s one of the big star’s on the team but, if he keeps pushing three out in a row, all of a sudden you’re gonna see he hasn’t much left in the tank come playoff time. He can’t do it all on his own. Neither can Daniel, for that matter. They both bring something different to the table. Daniel’s a family man, and that’s gotta count for something. I’m big on character and for my money, Daniel’s a character blogger. That’s what this organization needs, amirite?

    It’s all about playing the role your given. Take Drance and Ezra, for instance. While PiTB has done well to improve with what they’ve had the past couple seasons, they went out and took a strong look at how they could improve at the start of the year, and they’ve picked a couple of role players that have really put them over the top. Neither of them play huge minutes but, one needs not check the stat sheets to know what they bring to this team. The effects are huge. However, I just don’t ever see a 3rd-line-checking-forw– er uhh…. weekly contributer- playing with the twins— i mean– reaching 40 goa– uh… I think you know what I mean.

    *…where was I?*

    I’m just saying that fans in this market should just be happy that we’re spoiled with such an amazing tandem and that we should all stop worrying about who’s posting 3 shutou– entries– in a row and just sit back and enjoy what these guys bring to the table each and every day. Let’s be real. These guys are on the brink of hitting superstardom and one of these days they’re all going to be looking for big raises and the organization is going to have to let them go and let some new up and comers in. Then we’re gonna be looking at a major blogger rebuild phase and we’ll miss these days. So enjoy it while you can Bulies. I’m sure they are. I’ve just gotta believe, without knowing them personally myself, that they’re both just thrilled to be a part of one of the strongest team’s in the leag- uh, blogosphere.
    For the record, I say Daniel stays to finish out the season.

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    • BeCanucks
      February 11, 2012

      Thank you, tha was excellent! I laughed hard at that one!

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