Ok, maybe there’s not a true goaltending controversy in Canuckland these days, but if it weren’t for Roberto Luongo’s reputation, there would be. Luongo is having his worst season in a Canucks jersey, being pulled more times than ever, while Andrew Raycroft is enjoying the the best season by a Canucks backup since Alex Auld. Statistically speaking, Raycroft has better numbers.
They share essentially the same save percentage (Luongo at .913, Raycroft at .914) and Raycroft has a better goals against average (Luongo at 2.55, Raycroft at 2.31). These stats should be skewed a bit given the fact that Luongo plays fatigued more often and usually plays the tougher teams, but this is still highly unusual for Luongo. Luongo typically has numbers far superior to his backup and is usually at the top of the league in GAA and SV%. This year, he’s middle of the pack, 18th in GAA and 17th in SV%. To put that in perspective, Dan Cloutier was 16th and 18th in GAA and SV% in 2003-04.
All of these numbers are not to suggest that the Canucks should play Raycroft in the playoffs or that Luongo won’t regain his form, but it still has to cause a bit of concern. He’s not at his best right now and hasn’t been for a while. Since the Olympics, Roberto Luongo is a very mediocre 7-5-1, has been pulled three times, and has given up four goals or more five times. That means there have been far too many stinkers for a goalie of his caliber.
Do you think Shane O’Brien will be laying off the club scene for a while now? The Canucks blueliner is enjoying a pretty good season so far on the ice. He has been steady, averaging more minutes per game than he did last year and has a very respectable plus-minus rating of +16. Off the ice, he has been in and out of Alain Vigneault’s doghouse. It’s being suggested that his multi-game stint in the press box in favour of Andrew Alberts a few weeks ago was because he put on a few pounds during the Olympic break. His most recent trip to the doghouse is by far the most serious. Apparently O’Brien had a wild night at the Roxy on Sunday night and was late for practice on Monday morning. The biggest problem with this is the fact that practice was at 11am! I can understand someone hitting the snooze a little too long if practice was at say, 8am, but missing an 11am practice is pretty ridiculous.
O’Brien has been banished from the team, at least for a few games. Hopefully he and Vigneault can patch things up and get him back on the ice. I believe he’s quite a bit better than Andrew Alberts as the team’s number six defenceman, and will be counted on during the playoffs.