Tag:Roberto Luongo
Posted on: October 26, 2011 3:27 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 5:37 pm

Looking at the starts for Luongo, Ovechkin


Pucks and Numbers: a weekly statistical look at what's happening around the NHL. This week: the "slow" starts for Vancouver's Roberto Luongo and Washington's Alex Ovechkin

By: Adam Gretz

In news that is sure to calm the chaos surrounding the Vancouver Canucks and their starting goaltender, Roberto Luongo, the three-time All-Star was pulled during the second period of their 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night after surrounding three goals on 14 shots. Panic!

Luongo, of course, has been under intense scrutiny, as he always seems to be in Vancouver, and it's reached the point that the local press is writing editorials proposing trades, much to the chagrin of general manager Mike Gillis. Imagine what it would be like if this team wasn't one win away from owning the Stanley Cup just a few months ago.

There is no way to deny that it's been a bad month for Luongo, as his .868 save percentage through his first six starts is near the bottom of the NHL. But he's not going to stay this bad, and it shouldn't be a surprise that he's struggled in the month of October. Throughout his career Luongo has been a slow starter (and at times slow finisher) and plays lights out during the months in between. He's basically a goaltending bell curve.

Let's take a look at his save percentages, by month, for his career and the past few seasons.

Roberto Luongo: Month-by-Month
Month Career 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08
October .914 .907 .902 .902 .903
November .916 .914 .921 .959 .940
December .923 .922 .932 Injured .942
January .921 .947 .922 .876 .908
February .923 .923 .915 .914 .919
March .920 .942 .902 .930 .909
April .904 .961 .867 .918 .820

If you're of the opinion that Luongo can't win when it counts, maybe his decreased production in April, which has carried over to the playoffs at various times in recent years, simply reinforces that belief. But a slow start is nothing new. And while this one has been worse than some of his recent ones, he's eventually going to rebound. Over the past six years Luongo has been one of the best goaltenders in the league when it comes to even-strength save percentage, and even finished second in two of the past three years. He didn't suddenly lose that ability. At least not yet. He's going to play better, so let's calm down with the trade talk and suggestions of starting Cory Schneider, Vancouver, because it's not going to happen. And it shouldn't happen.

Ovechkin's start not unlike his previous starts … sort of

Speaking of great players that are off to "slow" starts, Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has three goals and four assists through his first seven games of the season. For most players, a point-per-game average at any point of the season is a cause for praise and celebration; for a former scoring champion and two-time MVP it's started conversation as to whether or not we've already seen his best days as an NHL scorer.

(Actually, that may not be entirely out of the question at this point, as most players see their peak performance come somewhere around the age of 25 or 26. Of course, that doesn't mean Ovechkin is destined to become an average player or that his career is going to suddenly fall off a cliff. He's still going to be one of the best and most dominant players in the NHL and a force to reckon with everytime he steps on the ice -- he just may not score 65 goals again.) 

But what about his start to this season? Is three goals and four assists through seven games all that out of the ordinary for Ovechkin? No. No it's not. Have a look.

Alex Ovechkin: Production Through Seven Games
Year Goals Points Shots
2011-12 3 7 21
2010-11 4 8 35
2009-10 7 14 55
2008-09 2 4 37
2007-08 4 6 36
2006-07 4 7 46
2005-06 4 8 28

The biggest difference, obviously, is that his shots on goal are not only way down, but are also the lowest they've ever been through this many games, and that should be a bit of a concern.

The easy suggestion is to simply shoot more(!) but that's easier said than done. Everybody wants to get more shots on goal, whether you're a former 60-goal scorer or a third-line grinder. But there's another team out there with highly paid professionals doing their best to prevent that from happening. Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post wrote about Ovechkin's start last week and pointed out how the Capitals are trying --and have been trying -- to get him to become less predictable on the attack, and how other teams have been defending his usual rush of cutting to the high slot.

Maybe "the book" is out on him, and maybe he hasn't adjusted to it yet, but this slow start looks pretty similar to every other start he's had throughout his career, at least as far as his production is concerned, even with the fewer shots on goal (something that's been on the decline in recent years, as Neil Greenberg recently pointed out). Whether or not that's sustainable over the course of the season remains to be seen.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: October 22, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: October 22, 2011 2:27 pm

Gillis defends Luongo, unhappy with editorial

MG1By: Adam Gretz

An editorial appeared in the Vancouver Province on Thursday with the off-the-wall suggestion that the Canucks trade their starting goaltender, Roberto Luongo, to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Vincent Lecavalier.

Luongo, of course, has been hearing a chorus of boos and jeers for most of the young season for his play, seemingly a carryover from last year's playoffs, and it's even to the point now where Luongo is talking about how it's no big deal because he's so used to it. No doubt, the Canucks faithful and their franchise goalie have a somewhat rocky relationship.

But the suggestion that appeared in the Province (which you can read right here) was laughable at best, and completely absurd at its worst for a number of reasons. Including the fact that Lecavalier actually has a larger contract and isn't quite as valuable of a player at this point in his career. To call it a "rumor" would be an insult to rumormongers everywhere. All it would do is simply swap the franchise goaltender (and in this particular case, the more valuable of the two players) with the huge contract that is under constant scrutiny for a forward with a larger contract that would likely be under just as much scrutiny for not performing up to expectations. And that's if the trade suggestion had a snow balls chance in hell of ever happening. 

Canucks general manager Mike Gillis, seemingly at the end of his rope when it comes to this nonsense regarding his starting goaltender, made a call into a Vancouver sports talk show on Friday night and went to the defense of Luongo, while also criticizing the paper for a lack of accountability. You can listen to the entire call at Team 1040's website, with the main commentary on the editorial starting around the 14-minute mark.

The biggest problem Gillis had with the article seemed to be that it actually appeared as an editorial, in the front section of the paper, and without any name attached to it. Basically, he wanted accountability, and he mentioned multiple times that he simply "did not like it."

"I've got a real issue with this," said Gillis. "There are bigger issues ... The editorial board of the Province makes a decision that they want a franchise goalie out of here and they already have him traded for another player on another team. Where does that come from?"

"I think that when you have the guys we work with from the Province all the time, if they write something, they're down here after the next day and they're accountable because they have to talk to the players, the coaches, myself or somebody. Where's the accountability in this?"

Following Gillis' appearance on the show, Province editor in chief Wayne Moriarty appeared to counter the general manager's statement and defend the editorial, stating that it was the combined view of the editorial board after debating the issue, and that most editorials in most papers don't have a name attached to them.

"The person who writes it, all that person is doing is putting into words the viewpoint of three or four people," said Moriarty. "The viewpoint of a concensus. So attaching one name to it is somewhat irrelevant because it's not the viewpoint of the person who writes it, it's the viewpoit of a board."

He then followed that statement up by suggesting that Gillis should be more concerned about 14,000 of his premium ticket holders booing his most valuable asset, as opposed to be concerned about what appears in an editorial in one of the local papers.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: October 20, 2011 5:06 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 5:08 pm

Struggling Luongo's new mask; Johnny Canuck back

By Brian Stubits

I would like to call Roberto Luongo's relationship with the Vancouver faithful a love-hate one, but right now, it's mostly just hate.

In the past, you couldn't quite tell if the crowd was erupting into a chrous of "LUUUUU" or "BOOOOO." These days it's pretty easy, they're just boos.

“The good thing is it has happened so many times, I've gotten used to it,” Luongo told the Vancouver Sun. “It really doesn't affect me anymore. A fan pays for their ticket and comes to the game and they have a right to boo if they want to.”

Despite being a Vezina finalist last season, Luongo drew the ire of Canucks fans by struggling early in the playoffs. Since then he hasn't really returned to their good graces. Part of the problem is that 3.70 goals against average and .856 save percentage so far this season.

Who is in the fans' favor, however, is the backup Cory Schneider. Just like they say in football, the backup quarterback is sometimes the most popular man in town. That applies to Schneider, who is one of the best backups in the league. And he still has Luongo's back.

“For a guy who has done more for this franchise than any other goalie probably in the history of the team, you’d think he’d get a bit of slack or some more leeway before they really get on him,” Schneider said. "“He’s a top-three, top-five goalie in this league. I know he’s not playing like that right now. He knows that.“

Well maybe the arrival of his new mask will help. As seen above, the motif is very Canuck friendly, as is the norm with Luongo's designs. This one even includes an image of Johnny Canuck.

Speaking of Mr. Canuck, he has made another video. Remember at the end of last season how he was fixin' to ruin a Bruin? Instead it was him who was ruined. Now his resolve has been strengthed by the heartbreak of last season.

Photo: Vancouver Sun

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 17, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2011 6:00 pm

Good news, Vancouver: Ryan Kesler is back

By: Adam Gretz

It hasn't been a great start to the season for the Vancouver Canucks. Not awful, of course, but Roberto Luongo is off to another one of his slow starts to the season, while the team has dropped three of its first five games. They have also been playing without two of their top forwards, Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond, and when the Canucks take against the New York Rangers on Tuesday night, Kesler is expected (according to him) to make his 2011 debut.

"It's been too long!" Kesler said on his Twitter account. "The wait is over I will be in the lineup tomorrow night."

After winning the Selke Trophy a year ago as the NHL's best defensive forward, Kesler underwent hip surgery over the summer and has been on the mend ever since.

Of course it will be a welcome addition to the Canucks lineup, not only because of his ability as a shutdown center, but also because his offensive game has blossomed in recent years, including this past season when he finished tied for the team lead in goals (along with Daniel Sedin) with 41. He spent Monday's practice skating on a line with Cody Hodgson and Christopher Higgins. The five games he's missed this season were the first regular season games he's missed since the 2007-08 season.

Also good news: now that's he ready to return to action we may see him take part in more of his trademark interview bombs, as he did on Saturday night to Alex Burrows. Or in any of these examples:

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: October 7, 2011 1:38 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 1:42 am

Changed Man? Matt Cooke Scores 2 in win

By: Adam Gretz

Well this was a somewhat unexpected twist to the NHL's opening night.

When Matt Cooke was talking about changing the way he plays the game over the summer, the general consensus was that actions speak louder than words, and that we'll have to take a wait-and-see approach to see if he's not only committed to it, but also follows through with it. And let's face it, there's a pretty good reason for that.

You can't tell much from one game, but based on Pittsburgh's season opening 4-3 shootout win against Vancouver on Thursday night, the NHL's most controversial player managed to get off to a great start by being the surprising offensive hero for the Penguins, scoring a pair of goals. His first one was a power play tally midway through the first period, while he also managed to score a shorthanded goal early in the second period (video above) when he fired a shot through Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who appeared to unintentionally screen Roberto Luongo.

Cooke, of course, usually has his name appear in the news for a questionable hit or a suspension -- of which he's had four since joining the Penguins -- which only overshadows the fact he is a valuable player, as he showed on Thursday. When he's not doing something that puts his team at a disadvantage, that is, whether it be an ill-timed penalty or one of the aforementioned suspensions. His season-ending 17-game banishment last season, which cost him all seven of Pittsburgh's playoff games against Tampa Bay, seemed to be the breaking point and the catalyst to get him to talk about changing the way he plays.

After Thursday's game, which turned out to be wildly entertaiing if you managed to stay awake for it, he spoke with Versus about coming back from last year's suspension and talked about how he let his team down  last season -- and they absolutely did miss him in the playoffs -- and felt the need to make it up to them.

Scoring two goals in the season opener is a great way to start.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: September 30, 2011 6:44 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 7:02 pm

Northwest Division Preview: 'Nucks still own it


By: Adam Gretz

This was the only division in the NHL last season to produce only one playoff team, and that was the Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks, the team that's won the division three years in a row.

Playoff teams have been difficult to come by in the Northwest in recent years, as Colorado and Calgary are the only teams other than Vancouver to reach the postseason over the past three years; and they only managed to qualify once each. You have to go back to the 2007-08 season to find the last time more than two teams went to the playoffs in the same year out of the Northwest, and it's probably not going to happen this year.

Once you get past Vancouver, the Flames are probably the best bet to reach the playoffs, and even they're not a lock, having failed to qualify two years in a row, and then there's a steady dropoff to a pair of rebuilding teams in Colorado and Edmonton, and a team in Minnesota that seems to be stuck somewhere in the middle between being in contention and in a  rebuilding phase.

The Northwest Division (In predicted order of finish):

CanucksVancouver Canucks: The Vancouver Canucks reached the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time in franchise history last season, losing to the Boston Bruins in seven games. After jumping out to a 2-0 series lead, Vancouver went on to lose four of the final five games of the series. And they not only lost, they were absolutely dominated, losing by a combined score of 21-4. Even with that disappointment in the rearview mirror, the Canucks are bringing back a roster that remains loaded from top to bottom, and is one of the top two or three cup contenders in the league.

Strengths: Just about everything is a strength for the Canucks. They're deep down the middle with Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler and the underrated Manny Malhotra at center, and even with the loss of Christian Ehrhoff, they have an excellent defense led by Alex Edler, Dan Hamhuis, Keith Ballard, Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo. Roberto Luongo is still one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, and Cory Schneider, his young backup, could probably start for quite a few teams as well. They have quality depth up front with wingers like Daniel Sedin, Alex Burrows, Mikael Samuelsson, Jannik Hansen and Maxim Lapierre, and they excel on special teams, finishing with the top power play in the league last season and the third best penalty kill.

Weaknesses: It's really difficult to find one. Is there one? An obvious one? The Canucks are as deep as just about any team in the NHL at forward, defense and goaltender and have outstanding special teams. Where is the weakness?

FlamesCalgary Flames: A slow start that resulted in just 11 wins in their first 27 games put the Flames in a hole that was simply too deep to dig out of in the Western Conference, missing the playoffs by just four points. It's actually the exact opposite path they followed the previous season when they opened the with a 17-6-3 mark, only to completely fall apart over the final four months of the season and missed the playoffs by five points.

Strengths: Jarome Iginla is simply fantastic. He hasn't missed a game in four years, has scored at least 32 goals in each of those years, and managed to put in 43 during the 2010-11 season. Rene Bourque, Lee Stempniak, Curtis Glencross and David Moss is a solid group of forwards to put around Iginla, and all have the ability to score somewhere between 20 and 25 goals. A lot of other teams teams can -- and will -- do worse up front.

Weaknesses: How much does Miikka Kiprusoff have left in the tank? He's declined in recent years and his workload might be catching up with him and Henrik Karlsson could (and perhaps should) be getting a bigger role this season. Losing Robyn Regehr could be a significant loss on the blue line, and Jay Bouwmeester's first two years in Alberta have to be considered a tremendous disappointment. In his final three years with Florida he scored 12, 15 and 15 goals. In his two years with the Flames? He's scored seven. Total. And he's taking up over $6.6 million in cap space to be an offensive-defenseman. That's not going to work.

WildMinnesota Wild:  Mike Yeo takes over a team that hasn't made the playoffs in three years, hasn't won a playoff series since it went to the Conference Finals nine years ago, and he's introducing his version of the neutral zone trap (insert your own "it's boring hockey" comment here). Actually, it's pretty similar to the system the Penguins run -- the team Yeo was an assistant with for a number of years -- and is a bit more up-tempo than the Jacques Lemaire trap Minnesota fans witnessed all those years.

Strengths: Yeo is pushing for Mikko Koivu to win the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward, and he's definitely a worthy player to put on your early season watch list. An excellent two-way player that makes an impact in all three zones and all phases of the game. Dany Heatley, acquired from the Sharks over the summer, is coming off a down year (by his standards) in the goal-scoring department but possesses the best natural goal-scoring ability of any player on the roster and is a legitimate 40-goal threat.

Weaknesses: With Brent Burns no longer on the roster Minnesota has a bit of a hole on its blue line when it comes to providing offense. Marek Zidlicky, who was limited to just 46 games a season ago, was the only other defenseman to register at least 20 points. The 13th ranked power play in the league a season ago lost its top-three power play goal scorers (Burns, Antti Miettinen and Andrew Brunnette). Heatley should be able to help in that area, but will he be enough?

How good is Niklas Backstrom? He hasn't approached the numbers he put up the first three years of his career while playing under Lemaire, and his backups have pretty consistently put up similar save percentages in recent years. Was he a product of the system or is he set to play like one of the best goalies in the league again?

FlamesColorado Avalanche: Their decision to trade a first-round draft pick to the Washington Capitals for goaltender Semyon Varlamov was panned over the summer, as most observers are expecting Colorado to once again finish near the bottom of the NHL's standings, meaning that pick could turn out to be a lottery selection. The jury is still out on that trade, obviously, but there's no denying the Avalanche needed a significant upgrade in net after a disappointing season from Craig Anderson helped put the Avs at the bottom of the NHL in save percentage last season.

Strengths: The 1-2 punch of Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny down the middle is the foundation of this team, and they picked up another top young forward prospect back in June when they selected Gabriel Landeskog at the top of the draft.

Weaknesses: The Avalanche bulked up their defense this summer by putting an emphasis on adding size to their blue line, but will it result in a better product? Erik Johnson, acquired in last season's blockbuster trade with the St. Louis Blues, has the most potential of the group and is still only five years removed from being the No. 1 overall pick in the entire draft. Even with the addition of Varlamov, goaltending remains a question mark, especially since he's had problems staying injury free throughout his career.

The Avs had the worst penalty killing unit in the league last season. Can a full season of Jay McClement to go along with Daniel Winnick help improve that area?

OilersEdmonton Oilers: It's another rebuilding year, but they're getting closer, slowly but surely, to making an impact. And they might be the most entertaining -- and exciting -- non-playoff team in the league with an impressive list of young forwards led by last year's top pick, Taylor Hall.

Strengths: Even if No. 1 overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins doesn't spend the entire season in Edmonton, the Oilers still have some outstanding young talent up front. Ales Hemsky is one of the NHL's most creative players with the puck and a tremendous playmaker, typically averaging near a point-per-game. The biggest flaw in his game, unfortunately, is that he tends to miss at least 10 games (or more) per season. Getting him for a full season would be a welcome change. Hall looks to be a star in the making, and players like Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi and Sam Gagner are loaded with potential and should make the Oilers worth watching every night, even if they don't win a ton of games.

Weaknesses: Defense. Goaltending. Goaltending. Defense. After Ryan Whitney it's a very thin team on the blue line, and additions like Cam Barker aren't likely to help that. Their defense and goaltending, led by Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk, will keep the Oilers at the bottom of the division, as well as the Western Conference, for at least another year.

NHL season preview schedule
Wed., Sept. 21: Step-back players Tues., Sept. 27: Atlantic Division
Thur., Sept. 22: Breakout players Wed., Sept. 28: Central Division
Fri., Sept. 23: Southeast Division Thur. Sept. 29: Northeast Division
Mon., Sept. 26: Pacific Division Fri., Sept. 30: Northwest Division

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: September 3, 2011 10:24 am
Edited on: September 3, 2011 10:25 am

Manny Legace gets a tryout with Vancouver

LegaceBy: Adam Gretz

Veteran goaltender Manny Legace is going to get an opportunity to return to the NHL during training camp, even if it seems liike a bit of a long shot.

Legace was invited to the Vancouver Canucks training camp on a tryout basis according to Chuck Pleiness of the Macomb Daily, where the goaltender was quoted as saying that he was set on looking for a club in Europe to join before getting the call from the Canucks while he was on the golf course this week.

The 38-year-old Legace has spent parts of 11 years in the NHL with the Kings, Red Wings, Blues and Hurricanes, getting the win in 187 games and recording a .907 save percentage. He last played in the NHL during the 2009-10 season with Carolina, joining the team in November and appearing in 28 games.

After getting a tryout with the New York Islanders in training camp last year -- where he was released -- Legace played in Germany with the Iserlohn Roosters and finished the season with a 17-22-0 record and a .917 save percentage.

His chances of making the Canucks seem small at this point, even as a backup, as Vancouver already has Roberto Luongo cemented in as the starter, and Cory Schneider seemingly locked in as his backup. In his first full season in the NHL last season Schneider finished with a .929 save percentage, and was even called on to start a couple of playoff games when Luongo and the Canucks were struggling in the early rounds. 

Unless there's a significant roster move involving one of the two goalies already on the NHL roster (and that doesn't seem likely at this point) there  simply isn't an opening with Vancouver. His best chance might be to impress another team's scouting department and front office enough with his Vancouver tryout that another team looks into acquiring him if things don't work out with the Canucks.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: August 17, 2011 5:25 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 7:24 pm

Roberto Luongo would take back Thomas comments

By Brian Stubits

Roberto Luongo would like a mulligan.

He'd probably take one for the entire postseason (specifically the Chicago series after which he had a hard time recuperating his image), but his remarks this week were regarding his comment about Tim Thomas during the middle of the Stanley Cup Final.

"If I could do it again, I wouldn't say it," Luongo said in an interview with Radio-Canada.ca. "I didn't want to create the buzz that it did. After the fifth game, I had never been so emotional and I got carried away."

You remember it, when Luongo was pumping Timmy's tires?

After Thomas was caught too high in the crease, leaving the net open for Maxim Lapierre on a rebound off the back board to score the game-winning goal, Luongo was asked his thoughts on the Thomas' style.

"It's not hard [to stop] if you're playing in the paint," he said in his postgame conference. "It's an easy save for me, but if you're wandering out, that's going to happen."

He followed it up to admitting that Thomas makes saves that Luongo won't, too. It was a sound bite that drew an incredible amount of attention, but I was never exactly sure why. It was rather harmless, especially considering Luongo was asked to comment on it, he didn't just offer it at his own volition. Nonetheless, it hung over the Finals for Games 6 and 7, both Boston wins.

If you want to hear the whole interview, you better understand French. If so, here's where you can listen.

H/t to ESPN Boston

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com