We’re two games into the 2010-11 regular season and already a mini media firestorm has begun with the decision to start Roberto Luongo in goal for tonight’s game versus the Anaheim Ducks. The argument goes that if the Canucks are to play Cory Schneider in 20-25 games this season (as Mike Gillis has suggested), they ought to play Schneider against what looks like a poor team in Anaheim.
Alain Vigneault on Schneider playing 20-25 games:
I think Mike is the one who made that statement. In an ideal world, in ideal circumstances, it’s definitely the right frame of thought. But in this game, we all know you have to take things one game at a time and look at what’s happening in the present. And the present is our goaltender is playing real well right now, and he’s playing tonight.
Personally, I don’t get the panic/outrage/controversy. If the team plans to play Schneider in 20 games (25 may be unrealistic when you compare him to other goalies of his stature), then Schneider should average playing about once every four games. Well, it’s game three of the regular season tonight and I think certainly playing him in game five (at home vs Carolina) or game six (first half of a back-to-back) makes more sense. Especially when Luongo is red hot and especially early on in the season.
So how many games does Luongo get? Other elite goalies got anywhere from 60-77 games last year. Brodeur had the most with 77, Miikka Kiprusoff and Henrik Lundqvist each played 73 while Ryan Miller and Ilya Bryzgalov played 69 games each. Note that none of those goalies were still playing in the second round of the playoffs last year. With that said, I think playing Luongo 62 times with Schneider seeing 20 games is a nice balance. The key of course, is having Luongo fresh for the playoffs.
Cutting down Luongo’s ice time makes sense, but lets not lose our heads here. Schneider will get his games, just be patient. In the meantime, lets hope Luongo can keep up this level of play because so far (it’s still early) he’s been sensational.