In a bit of fearful symmetry from Thursday night’s games, the key components of the two biggest stories of the Canucks’ off-season all lost by three goals in their first games with their new teams. Note that I’m including Vancouver as a new team for Roberto Luongo, because he was basically off the team before Cory Schneider got traded.
Opening night for the Canucks, Devils, and Rangers all fell on Thursday, so Luongo and Tortorella made their season debuts on the same night as their counterparts in New Jersey and New York.
Canucks fans will surely be keeping a close eye on Schneider’s season after he was surprisingly traded at the 2013 entry draft. The grumbling started in the pre-season, when Schneider played shutout hockey through his first two appearances and only gave up one goal in eight periods of hockey. Luongo, meanwhile, gave up four goals in the first 13 minutes of his first pre-season appearance.
Despite his excellence in the pre-season, it was still a surprise to see Schneider get the start in the New Jersey Devils’ first game, though it was partly because of Martin Brodeur’s father, famed hockey photographer Denis Brodeur, passing away just a week before the start of the season. Peter DeBoer told reporters that he wanted to give Brodeur an extra day of rest after he missed the Devils’ final pre-season game to attend his father’s funeral.
I expected Schneider to eventually supplant Brodeur as the number one goaltender in New Jersey this season, but I didn’t expect it to happen in game one. Of course, he may not taken a firm grasp of the job, as he gave up 2 goals on his first 9 shots, eventually losing 3-0.
Canucks fans eager to feel better about the Schneider trade jumped on his rough start, a little too quickly as it turned out. Luongo also lost by three goals, getting one goal of support, but giving up 4. Anyone looking for an easy narrative after the first game (They traded the wrong/right goalie!) was sadly disappointed.
The similarities were even eerier for the coaches: both John Tortorella and Alain Vigneault lost in their debuts with their new team by identical 4-1 scores. Even more, the only goals for the Rangers and Canucks came from defencemen on the powerplay, with Marc Staal scoring for New York and Jason Garrison for Vancouver. Getting the assists on the only goal for both teams: their first line centre and left winger, Derek Stepan and Rick Nash for the Rangers, the Sedins for the Canucks.
This is a little weird, right? It’s not just me?
It could have been weirder, of course. Everything wasn’t exactly the same and the differences may provide some cold comfort for Canucks fans. After all, Luongo may have given up 4 goals, but it was on 35 shots. Schneider, on the other hand, gave up 3 goals on just 21 shots. If you want to make a judgement call after a one-game sample size, then Luongo is going to have a terrible save percentage this season, but Schneider’s is going to be even worse.
As for Vigneault’s Rangers, unlike the Canucks, they weren’t facing one of the powerhouses of the Pacific Division. They lost 4-1 to the Phoenix Coyotes, who missed the playoffs last season. I mean, losing 4-1 to any team is a disappointment but at least the Canucks lost to the San Jose Sharks.
Yep, that’s some pretty cold comfort.Tags: Alain Vigneault, Cory Schneider, John Tortorella, Roberto Luongo