This morning, while much of the Vancouver Canucks’ rabid – if not reactionary – fanbase is busy blaming all the team’s ills on goaltender Roberto Luongo after the team’s 4-0 loss to the New York Rangers, the fact remains that it’s the Canucks’ struggling offence, and flat power play, that is the team’s biggest problem.
Yes, Luongo could have been better Tuesday night, allowing four goals on 17 shots, although all by Brian Boyle’s were tough saves to make, and not necessarily goals you’d pin solely on the netminder’s shoulders. Of course, that didn’t stop the fans from getting on him, even giving him a Bronx cheer in the third period when he skated a few feet out of his net to stop a slowly-moving puck that had been dumped into the zone by the Rangers.
And as easy as it is to get on Luongo – often with merit – the fact remains that Ken Dryden in his prime would still have lost Tuesday night to the Rangers. Because the Canucks didn’t score a single goal, despite peppering Henrik Lundqvist with 40 shots on net.
The team was 0-for-8 on the power play, and wasn’t able to get to second and third chances, after Lundqvist stopped the initial shot.
Luongo bashers, of course, don’t want to hear any of that. And they don’t care that most of the four goals – all of which came in the decisive third period – were tough ones to stop. Lundqvist, they point out, was making all kinds of all-world saves, and Luongo simply didn’t match him, regardless of how tough the shots are.
I’ll admit, it’s an easy opinion to take, though it’s often not the right one. Yes, Luongo has not been good this month – or any October, really, since arriving in Vancouver. He currently sports an ugly 3.70 goals-against average, and a save-percentage of .856 – good for 37th overall in the NHL. But it is, of course, a small sample size.
So while it would be great for the fans, for the team, and for Loungo himself – who must be getting sick of the boos and sarcastic cheers from fans in this market — to get off to a better start every October, it’s not all on him. Aside from Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who have seven points in six games, and to a lesser extent, Chris Higgins, there has not been a whole lot of offence to speak of.
But on the bright side, Ryan Kesler’s back and bound to add a spark to the team once he gets up to speed, Cody Hodgson’s looked good – and didn’t look too out of place on Kesler’s wing Tuesday – and even for the Luongo critics, remember this:
October’s almost over.