NHL Playoffs 2012: Luongo Falls, Why We Will See Cory Schneider Soon

Robert TheodorsonSenior Analyst IApril 12, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Goaltender Cory Schneider #35 of the Vancouver Canucks in action during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on February 28, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Canucks 2-1 in an overtime shootout.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Roberto Luongo is the most criticized goalie in the NHL.

Having said that, Tuesday night, the Vancouver Canucks goalie was tremendous against the underdog Kings, and he almost took them to overtime after his team killed it with careless penalties.  

The Canucks were dead set to make friends with the penalty box attendants, putting Luongo on the penalty kill for eight minutes in the first period. 

Byron Bitz didn't make life easy on Bobby Lou.

Bitz served a game misconduct, resulting in a five-minute power play for LA and a two-game suspension handed down by NHL head disciplinarian Brendan Shannahan. 

The Kings capitalized twice on goals from former playoff standout Mike Richards and former Vancouver Canuck WIllie Mitchell. 

Vancouver's resulting actions forced Luongo to make 35 saves over a total period of 17 penalty minutes. 

Luongo, who has often been cited as having an unnecessarily long contract, might be on a short leash, despite putting together a hard fought effort.

If Luongo puts forth a sub-par effort in the Los Angeles series, we might see young up-and-comer Cory Schneider take the reins.

Schneider is an impending restricted free agent, so the Canucks might want to test him in playoff action to see if he is indeed the goaltender of the future.

If management is set on Luongo moving forward in the next decade, it would also be smart to start Schneider to show off his talents to pro scouts who want to land the former Boston College standout. 

If Luongo rebounds and steals a few games for his team, the whispers in the locker room and front office will die down—at least for the time being. If Los Angeles pushes Vancouver to the brink, we are going to see Schneider in action—no doubt about it. 

In pulling Luongo, management is making a money move by showing off their backup to the rest of the league. If Cory succeeds, you've got trade bait, and if he fails, you can low-ball him at the negotiating table. It's really a win-win for Vancouver.

Throwing Schneider on the ice is like throwing chum in the water for a hungry shark.

We've already seen what Vancouver does when things don't go their way. If Schneider wins the series for Vancouver, you've got your goaltender for the next round, and the fans are happy.

If Schneider loses, the entire Vancouver fan base can't say anything, and you've given them another win, as sour as it might be. 

If Los Angeles returns home with a 2-0 series lead, the general viewing public is going to be hearing Schneider's name very often. But if the Canucks don't shape up and go deeper in the hole, they'll be seeing just exactly who Schneider is.