How will we know when there actually is a goaltending controversy?

Roberto Luongo will start his second game in a row tonight against the Colorado Avalanche, a move that seems to contradict any assertions that Cory Schneider is the number one goaltender for the Canucks. If Alain Vigneault were just riding the hot hand, it would make sense: Luongo has been, objectively speaking, the better goaltender to start the season, posting a .917 save percentage and 2.21 goals against average as compared to Schneider’s .897 and 3.13.

The issue is that Vigneault has claimed that isn’t his strategy. Supposedly, he and Rollie Melanson mapped out the two goaltenders starts well in advance and it’s entirely possible that Luongo was slated to start against the Avalanche right from the start of the season. Accordingly, this wouldn’t be the sign of a goaltending controversy or any indication that the Canucks lack confidence in Schneider.

So what would? How do we know when there actually is a goaltending controversy in Vancouver?

It’s not like Schneider’s been bad. Context should be considered when looking at his statistics. For two of his four starts, the team in front of him gave up too many scoring chances with giveaways and poor positioning in the defensive zone, leading to 5 goals against on just 14 shots in the season opener against the Ducks and 4 goals against on 27 shots against the Sharks.

In his other two starts, Schneider has looked fantastic, making 34 saves against Calgary in a 3-2 shootout win and shutting out the Ducks in their home opener. With his season just four starts old, it’s far too soon to make any judgements on his work as a number one goaltender. It seems likely that he’ll settle in over the course of the season and be just fine.

It’s possible that we’ve just misjudged Vigneault’s intentions, assuming that Schneider would get the bulk of the starts this season. I argued back in October that having both Schneider and Luongo for a condensed season made sense to avoid fatigue and injuries with the compressed schedule; it’s possible that Vigneault intends to more evenly split the starts of both goaltenders, taking advantage of having two number one goaltenders while he still has them.

It’s also possible that Vigneault is trying to split up the starts as much as he possibly can now, in the off chance that a Luongo trade occurs later on this season, and he winds up having to use Schneider with more frequency down the stretch. If the Canucks are planning a long playoff run, it sure makes sense to make sure their guy — presumably, Schneider — is well-rested for when it starts.

But maybe it wasn’t planned out as far in advance as Vigneault originally led us to believe:

 

If the decision was made on Tuesday, that just raises further questions. Does Vigneault now intend to ride the hot hand? Is he saving Schneider for the rivalry game against the Chicago Blackhawks? Is Vigneault giving the easier game against the Avalanche to the “backup”? Perhaps as a means of showcasing Luongo for that long-awaited trade?

Or is there actually a goaltending controversy? Is there a possibility that Luongo will steal back the number one job and make Mike Gillis’s job a lot harder in the off-season?

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25 comments

  1. Brent
    January 30, 2013

    Maybe Gilles cryptic statement about another player being involved in the trade was actually reference to Schneider. Maybe he is going to trade Schneider instead?! (can’t believe Harrison didn’t mention that one in his Gillis traslator piece). Oh my gosh, lets keep the goaltender controversy alive and well with this new conspiracy theory. Schneider was the one they wanted to trade from the beginning, his playing that last few games in the playoffs was just marketing.

    But right now, I am pretty happy we have two #1′s. Based on defensive play lately, we need them both.

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    • Brent
      January 31, 2013

      Even though Luongo played great tonight, AV will start Schneider against Chicago. No goaltender controversy until after Friday’s game.

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  2. steveB
    January 30, 2013

    I won’t believe any trade rumours unless it involves a Third Round Pick.
    TRPs are as certain as a 2 goal Canucks lead.

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    • Rituro
      January 30, 2013

      Damn straight.

      Hey, by the by… a friend of the zamboni driver over at Staples Centre says Luongo + 3rd for Kopitar. Bank it.

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      • bihari
        January 31, 2013

        Dont want Kpoitar- he is just too ugly to fit in with the Nucks!

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        • Kenji
          January 31, 2013

          That’s right! agrees Dave Nonis, reaching for his third cruller

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  3. Ablefish
    January 30, 2013

    Coach has two great goaltenders, and its his job to decide which one gives him the best chance to win each night. I can’t for the life of me understand how starting one or the other amounts to a ‘controversy’. If one goalie was demonstrably worse than the other and was getting more starts than he deserved, THAT would be a goalie controversy.

    Instead what we have in Vancouver is a bunch of lazy media members (I’m looking at pretty much all of the inhouse Team1040 staff) who would rather waste listeners’ time with this crap then do any real work (ie, gather NEW information or takes on the Canucks). It’s to the point where I can’t stand to listen to pre or post game radio any more. I’m so fed up with it, it makes me wish for a lockout at times.

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    • Frank N
      January 30, 2013

      Agreed on your 1040 comments. Blake and Price are just the worst winers and negative people out there. Nothing the team does, is good enough. Worst of it all is that most of their comments are based on nothing, on pure speculation. Look at the comments Thomas Drance makes, or that guy on Twitter, Danthestatman. They have something meaningful to say.

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    • Smokey
      January 30, 2013

      I believe Pink Floyd was referring to the Vancouver sports media when they sang, “Get ‘em up against the wall!”

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  4. Nancy
    January 30, 2013

    Maybe there’s just ‘way too much media speculation, when common sense would say if you have two crack goalies, use ‘em to help each other.

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  5. nick
    January 30, 2013

    This is sort of shocking. I’d like to believe that there is some sort of plan here, like showcasing Lu, or saving Schneider for life without Lu, and that this was how Rollie and AV drew it up. ‘Cause man, if AV’s ditching Schneider as the #1 after 4 starts in favour of playing the hot guy (my wife would argue that Cory still leads in that category), that’s a rough ride. That’s like extreme trolling. “Hey, everyone who was slowly and meticulously brought up in the minors, became the best backup in the league, then was finally given the chance to start, and had a reasonable amount of time to establish themselves, step forward! Not so fast, Cory.” That’s like Zero Dark Thirty stuff right there.
    I get the whole thing about starting the goalie who gives the team the best chance to win on a given night, but what about long term? This was supposed to be Schneider’s team. If that’s been taken away from him after a ridiculously short sample size, how will that affect him if/when it becomes his team again?

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  6. junk
    January 30, 2013

    I’d like to think of it as the same situation as Coho – trying to showcase Luongo to potential trading partners. Granted, this is far more uncertain and riskier than giving a decent young centerman as many offensive zone starts as possible. How could anyone predict a goalie’s performance on any given night? What if his teammates decided to take the night off and hang their netminder out to dry?

    Nonetheless I hope Lu have a stellar game tonight and show those haters what they’ll miss when he’s gone. Luongo is the winningest goalie in Canucks history (until another one comes along topping the stats – but it won’t be anytime soon), a consummate professional and one of the bright stars in the twitterverse. He deserves much better respect and recognition that what he got from the fickle fanbase and media.

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  7. TamaraB
    January 30, 2013

    I said it last season, I believe, but I believe that Schneids was being showcased not Luo. Do I think it became possible that Luo would be traded? No. I think the plan was trade Schneider, and have him train up Lack, like he did for Schneider. Schneider deserves to be a starting goalie. If you’re looking at salary, who is the more attractive trade? Schneids. So why sign him to the multi year multi million dollar contract? Because it increases his worth.

    Whether any of this is brought on by my ardent desire to keep Luo in VanCity, I don’t know… but I thought last year it would be Schneider getting traded, not Luo.

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    • Lenny
      January 30, 2013

      It would shock the NHL if Schneider gets traded.

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      • Frank N
        January 30, 2013

        Yes it would. And I think we should keep Schneider.

        But at the same time, I’m really sad to see Luongo leave. As a fan of the team, I’ve had issues with his attitude on and off the ice, but he’s gotten far more relaxed over the last year or so. And he gave it his all for the team and got harsh (and sometimes) underserved criticism. I just wish that there was an ideal world (or situation) where Loungo and Schneider together could bring us the cup! That would be awesome!

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    • dave Mullen
      January 31, 2013

      We may be missing the whole situation, Lou wants to to go home, but what are they going to give up to please Van. best. When Kessler reuturns, we have a a glut of forwards.. How ever thought that Kassian, would be the answer to the Sedins. He provides the intimitatation, that they require so much, get it their face, and they have someone who can REALLY back them up. I think that will be one of the best lines around, provided Zack remembers his role ,get in front, and raise as much hell as he can, he has the size to block any view , then the Sedin , won’t have to keep playing the cycle, because they will be able to shoot from any angle. He is the fit we have been looking for for years. In watching the games that I have, it seems that the leaugue has decided that tough @ way hockey, pays the bills, seen more fights in a week than in all lastsea maybe they have learned not to sell to the US markcket, as it is a waste of time, some people don’t know a stick from a bat, and its time we went to the way the game should be played, hard hits , dropping the gloves, it was played that way for years before TV, and let the players do what they do best, play the came with spirit and pride, and if you drop the gloves , no one should care, PC is for yuppies, real fans know that you get me ,I’ll get you back, so let them fight, it breaks their concentration, hit me with a stick and make it hurt, I’d kick the hell out of you, it its mans, ways, Why don’t, complain about the violence in B,Ball, which sucks the big one, its, ok to slam someone on the floor and most of the time its not for the game, take the players out, and your chances get better. I am amazes that NBA fans say that hockey is to violent, when I have watched, I see more pain on I shift than, I shift on the ice, but it’s OK because they pay the bills. NO More son,

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  8. TamaraB
    January 30, 2013

    the ultimate happy would be those 2 hoisting the cup together, without a doubt.

    It would shock the NHL for sure, if Van traded Schneids. I’m betting Gillis is sitting there chortling about all the rumours. And by chortling, I mean he might have blinked lol.

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  9. Smokey
    January 30, 2013

    I’m telling you guys, after the playoffs last season AV, Gillis, Lu and Schneider all got together and cooked up this whole “trade Luongo, goalie controversy” thing as a media smokescreen to get all the hacks in this town off the team’s back. It’s totally working! All the media hubbub is on the goalie situation, everything else is free and clear of stupid speculation and talk-radio trolling. It’s genius! Otherwise how do you explain the sudden prominence of Luongo’s twitter? Where was that before? It’s all an elaborate ruse.

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    • John in Marpole
      January 31, 2013

      This is my favorite hockey conspiracy theory, ever.

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  10. HaroldP
    January 30, 2013

    I am a guy from Vancouver who has been living in Kingston, Ontario for a long time now. I am still a Canucks fan, living here among these permanently delusional Leafs fans. I have, however, never been a Luongo fan. He is one of the two most over rated players in the league, the other being another Canuck, Ryan Kesler. Roberto doesn’t just fall apart at key points in the playoffs – he vaporises. He gets bombed in the games that matter the most.

    If he somehow reclaims his position as the No. 1 there, you can kiss any chance of winning a Stanley Cup goodbye. And, if it matters to anyone, there will be one less Canucks fan here in Ontararario. Of course, this may be a moot point as the whole Canucks team so far pretty much stinks. I don’t think they have the horses to go all the way – but even if the rest of the team manages to suck it up soon, it won’t matter because Lou will go into his beached whale routine at the appropriate moments.

    And what about Kesler you might be asking. This is a guy who really only had one good year, shouldn’t be playing centre because he does not provide enough opportunities for his wingers and spends most of his time either running around hitting people or diving and then whining to the referees. Those of you who think that he is going to drag this team back to a level of excellence when he returns are almost as delusional as these Leaf fans back here.

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    • Frank N
      January 30, 2013

      Okay, how can I put this gently to you… Bye bye!?

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    • SteveB604
      January 31, 2013

      I dont know what team youre watching but Kesler “running around hitting people”? Hes about as aggressive as the Sedins are. And youre right, Kesler had one good GOALSCORING year. Its a shame that’s all you see when you watch hockey. Hes a two way versatile player. Offense and defense. Why do you think the Canucks look asleep the first five minutes of every game this season? Because with only the Sedins to start, if they dont win the faceoff and get it into the offensive end, Vigneault has to pull them and put Burrows in to defend because momentum is gone. Dont be Kesler can attack and defend, thats why he starts games. Not cuz one year he had a lot of goals. Enjoy Ontario.

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    • The Bookie
      January 31, 2013

      Stay in Kingston. Kingston deserves you.

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    • bihari
      January 31, 2013

      No wonder you got kicked out dude – stay away!

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  11. Smokey
    January 30, 2013

    Did anyone else hear Gary Valk saying how high Luongo was on the pre-game show? Apparently he was very high. The goalie coach’s name is also Rollie. You can’t make this stuff up! Ask Don Taylor if you don’t believe me.

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