Wednesday, March 24, 2010

CuJuongo Pulled Yet Again

The follies of watching Roberto Luongo attempt to play goal of late would be hilarious, if these egregious errors in goaltending weren't correctable. Let's start with his vaunted work ethic.

Now supposedly Luongo loves to practice to work on his game. Then why is it he is unable to handle the puck well? This inability in the modern game costs him dearly. The main thing is without this skill he quite naturally is incredibly timid in coming out of his net to chase loose pucks. As recent proof of that the Valtteri Filppula breakaway goal vs. Detroit where Bingo Bango Bongo should have pulled a Hasek and come out to shoot that puck away or at least slide out and flip Filppula over a la this. Sure it's hard to knock a goalie who stops 50 shots in a game but, of late, it seems the goals Luongo lets in are atrocious to say the least.

Which brings us to the other point--rest. Has Luongo or Coach Yogi Bear not learned the history of goalies who play too many regular season games? Throw in the fact that goalies who not only play in the Olympics but go deep in that tournament and take the gold tend to have lousy Stanley Cup runs in the spring.

Have a look at the Olympic gold medal winning goalies playoff record the year of their glory at the Winter Games:

Czech Republic goalie Dominik Hasek in '98 continues his excellent season and takes the 6th-seeded Sabres to the Conference Finals. He follows that up in '99 with a trip to the Final.
Then again this is Hasek who was arguably the greatest goalie of his generation (sorry, Patrick Roy).

In '02 Canadian gold medalist Martin Brodeur of the Devils (also a 6th-seeded team that year in the East) loses in the 1st round to the Carolina Hurricanes (who actually had 91 pts compared to New Jersey's 95). In '03, though, Marty takes New Jersey to its third Stanley Cup.

Swedish goalie Henrik Lundqvist takes the gold in Torino and promptly flames out in the 1st round as the 6th-seeded (is this a pattern or what?) New York Rangers get swept by their neighbors from New Jersey.

Unless you think Luongo is the next coming of Hasek, the Canucks are headed for a fall in round 1. Then again, here's hoping he's either the second coming of Hasek or Brodeur and it's a Cup Final run the following season in 2011. Stranger things have happened.

More worrying is the number of games Luongo is again racking up. He's played 62 with the Canucks and another 5 with Canada at the Olympics so far this season. Last season he played just 54 games and "almost" got the Canucks into the Conference Finals (curse you, Patrick Kane!).

Put it this way, the following goalies were your Stanley Cup champions with their regular season games played going into the playoffs each of those seasons:
'98 Chris Osgood, DET 64 GP
'99 Ed Belfour, DAL 61 GP
'00 Martin Brodeur, NJ 72 GP
'01 Patrick Roy, COLO 62 GP
'02 Dominik Hasek, DET 65 GP
'03 Martin Brodeur, NJ 73 GP
'04 Nikolai Khabibulin, TB 55 GP
'06 Cam Ward, CAR 28 GP
'07 Jean-Sebastien Giguere, ANA 56 GP
'08 Chris Osgood, DET 43 GP
'09 Marc-Andre Fleury, PITT 62 GP

So post-lockout the average number of games the Stanley Cup winner played in the regular season was 47 GP. Pre-lockout the average was 64 GP (boosted by Brodeur's ability to play a huge number of games because he faced fewer shots than most goalies given the New Jersey defense).

Anyway, if Luongo is to actually take the Canucks to Cup glory and not turn into a CuJo again come playoff-time, he may want to shut it down until round 1 starts. Or maybe the Canucks should pull a '06 Cam Ward move should Roberto falter. They could then ride Andrew Raycroft all the way to the Final. Hey, if Canada can win the most gold medals at an Olympic Games, anything can happen.


Jason said...

Hey JC- I agree with your concerns about Luongo playing too much, especially when you take into consideration the long Olympic run. To make matters a little worse, I think you left out one other aspect about Bobby Lu when you compared him to the other Olympic netminders. The amount of pressure that were on the Canadian players! I have read a few articles about the Canadian players (and even some of the Americans) who have been quite open about feeling not only physically drained from Vancouver 2010, but mentally exhausted as well because of how much pressure that they not only put on themselves, but because of how much pressure was put on them from outside sources.

CuJuongo needs to get some rest so that he can get back to playing in his mid-season form. Like you said, the guy pulls off a 50-save game but can still lose because of the small things. Just as the cliche goes: the devil is in the details.

Anyways I just wanted to add my two-cents to your post (which is a good read btw). I'm glad that I found your blog (thanks to

Have a good one and GO NUCKS GO!

Anonymous said...

You forget one thing. Luongo will never be a good puck handling goalie. He is a natural right handed shot but catches left. You try and shoot the wrong way.