The Paper Feature: The snack goal has returned, let the people rejoice

Roberto Luongo was named the NHL’s third star of the week on Monday, which is, of course, a nice little honour. But it could have been nicer. At the risk of sounding like a Canadian during the London Olympics, he should have done better than third.

Luongo’s numbers over the week — a 3-0-0 record, a 1.30 goals-against average and a .960 save percentage — were good enough for third place. But one wonders if a shutout would have nudged him a spot or two up the podium.

That shutout nearly came versus the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night. Unfortunately, a Jamie McGinn goal with just seven seconds remaining turned a 3-0 victory into a 3-1 victory.

For many of the Vancouver fans tuned into the game, there was no doubt the goaltender was to blame for this blown shutout. Not Luongo, though — John Garrett, the former goaltender turned colour man who committed superstitious goalie anathema by cursing the shutout in the final minute by speaking its name.

“Guess how many times the Avalanche have been shut out this year?” Garrett asked play-by-play partner John Shorthouse, on-air, with 35 seconds remaining in the contest, before immediately realizing what he’d done. “Sorry I said that,” he added, not to Shorthouse, we suspect, but to the ever-vengeful hockey gods. “With 35 seconds left,” he groaned. “I am sorry. I’m sorry I said it, because I didn’t want to say it.”

Shorthouse chided Garrett’s blunder. “For a guy as superstitious as you…”

“I know! I know!”

“I’ve known you for all these years.”

“I know, and it’s this 5 o’clock start, how can I say that with 35 seconds left? You can slap me right on the side of the head if something happens here. I’m giving you permission.”

Shorthouse didn’t share Garrett’s shame, but he understood it. “You know me, I have no problem with it, but to hear it from you is a revelation, to say the least.”

“I just…I got rambling,” Garrett said.

“20 seconds remaining and the Avs have the puck in their own zone,” Shorthouse responded. “People everywhere relishing the opportunity to slap you across the head. Looks like it’s maybe not going to happen… well, the Avs do get the puck in front and a shot by McGinn, he scores!”

“Gah!” Shouted a horrified Garrett. “There you go!”

“7.1 seconds left, and the Avs are on the board,” Shorthouse said, looking over to Garrett, who had literally fallen off his chair. “If you could see him right now, folks, he’s in the foetal position.”

“Isn’t that awful…I am, I am! That is ridiculous. It’s all my fault.”

Few in the Vancouver area disagreed. After the game, even colleague Don Taylor took his shots. “I’ll tell you who wasn’t one of the three stars,” he said. “Sportsnet’s John Garrett.”

But Luongo’s lost shutout shouldn’t be a cause for finger-pointing. It should be a cause for celebration. What we witnessed was not the wrath of the hockey gods, roused by a rambling John Garrett. It was a savvy snack goal from Luongo, his first in what seems like ages, and we should be well-pleased to see it back in his arsenal.

Allow me to explain the snack goal, a common term for us here at Pass it to Bulis, for anybody that might be new to our particular brand of whimsy: it’s a goal allowed late in a blowout — we’ve set the bar at a 3-0 lead or higher — that accomplishes little more than spoiling the shutout.

Why is it called a snack goal? Consider: teams already get up for the Canucks, a good team with a number of disagreeable characters, but imagine how much more motivated they’d be if they were shut out in their last game versus Vancouver. Imagine how much hungrier they’d be.

So how do you preemptively combat hunger on that level? By serving up a snack.

Sunday night’s goal by Jamie McGinn was Roberto Luongo’s first snack goal of the season, and it’s a good sign. Back in 2010-11, a pretty good year (unless you count how it ended), Luongo gave up a snack goals on the regular.

In the 119 games that made up that season, playoffs included, Luongo registered 8 shutouts. But he pitched a shutout into the final 10 minutes of the third period fifteen times. What happened to the other 7?

Why, 7 snack goals — 4 of which came within the final 5 minutes, and 2 within the final sixty seconds.

Fans groaned about every single one, of course, but in the larger picture, snack goals are a wonderful thing. If you’re in a position to give them up, it means you’re winning, and winning decisively. More of that is always welcomed in Vancouver.

Here’s hoping Luongo’s first of the season wasn’t his last. Garrett, you’re off the hook.

***

Tweet Podium

This feature takes a moment to recognize the best tweets of the week, because we’re online-type writers and Twitter is an online-type thing. If you see a great Canucks-related tweet, send us a link. Or plagiarize it and bask in its glory.

BRONZE

 

Also, there’s definitely no free parking.

SILVER

 

Quick, re-sign him before he scores again and drives the price up!

GOLD

 

Adrian Dater is the beat writer for the Colorado Avalanche and he is sad.

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Harrison Mooney is the co-editor of Pass it to Bulis at The Vancouver Sun. Have a tip? Email him at harrisonmooney@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter!

2 comments

  1. Chris the Curmudgeon
    December 11, 2013

    Wow, when you guys get on about something you really stick to it. Here a snack, there a snack everywhere a snack snack.

    Plus I think the Avalanche actually beat us once last year down the stretch.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      December 11, 2013

      They did. They won the last meeting of last season. But Dater’s just too sad to remember it…

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