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.
There are a few interesting things going on with the Canucks these days. This team, seemingly poised to go on to win the Northwest Division (barring a late season collapse), has been up and down of late. The team followed up a great road trip with two big wins in back to back nights and looked great doing it. They followed that up by losing to the Islanders and then rebounding to beat the Sharks. They narrowly got beat by the Red Wings after that and then Roberto Luongo collapsed against the basement dwelling Edmonton Oilers.
With 15 games left in the regular season and the nightmare record road trip behind them, one thing is still not clear. Are the Canucks contenders or pretenders? It’s a question that doesn’t elicit a unanimous response. I think that we as Canucks fans underrate this edition of the Canucks (just as we overrated the Naslund-Bertuzzi era Canucks).
Mike Peca called it a career today. Hardly a surprise given he hasn’t played a game this year, but still notable nonetheless. From a Canucks perspective, I will remember Peca for a couple of different reasons. At the 1995 draft, then Canucks general manager Pat Quinn pulled off one of the biggest blockbuster trades in Canucks history.
Alain Vigneault is fuming mad at a member of the media and his name is… Ron MacLean?! How weird is that? This, the same man who is beloved so much in this country that when the CBC decided to let him go, that the entire nation rose up and demanded (successfully) that he get whatever contract demand he wanted? A bizarre situation, indeed. For those that missed MacLean’s comments and Vigneault’s rebuttal:
After lets face it, a boring first 20-30 games this season, there are now lots of things going on in Canuckland. In fact, I can think of at least ten of them:
What do you think Keith Ballard will say the next time he sees Tomas Vokoun? Probably going to be a little awkward I’m thinking.
With four days to go until the next Canucks game (weird schedule this year, isn’t it?), I thought it’d be nice to shine the light on a still very underrated Canuck: Rick Rypien. I think this guy was a little bit forgotten about because of the injury/personal troubles he’s had the last few seasons. He hasn’t played an AHL game in two years, but has only played in 51 NHL games since.
Check out this video taken from the Tampa Bay Lightning practice. The team played a game of “strip shootout”. Basically it’s like strip poker, with the shooter removing an article of clothing every time they don’t score. Martin St Louis appears to be the big loser, having to remove a whole lot of equipment. Gary Bettman, are you watching this? Sounds like a great idea for the skills competition at All Star Weekend to me!
Question: what do Mike Smith, Cristobal Huet and Vesa Toskala have in common? Answer: they’re the only NHL starting netminders with a worse save percentage than Roberto Luongo this season.