The Vancouver Canucks lost at home last night to the New York Rangers 4-0. After going down 3-0 in the third period, the Canucks faithful turned on goalie Roberto Luongo and boos showered down from the Rogers Arena seats.
Luongo is a hot button topic in Vancouver and last night showed that he may be in for a long year.
No matter how you feel about Roberto Luongo and the Canucks chances with him in net, last night showed that no matter what actually happens on the ice he is in for a tough year. It’s always going to be his fault.
Last night should have been about how the Canucks skaters could not get one of their 40 shots past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Or it should have been about how Vancouver owned New York for the first 40 minutes of the game but had nothing to show for it.
It became about Luongo.
After only facing nine shots through the first two periods he gave up four goals in the third. The goals weren’t horrible, they weren’t the ones that Luongo has given up that leaves you shaking your head. A couple of them were the results of some defensive gaffes.
For the fans, it doesn’t matter. It’s Luongo’s fault.
For the fans, it is his fault the team is off to a slow start (never mind the fact they always start slow), it’s his fault beer costs so much and that the economy is bad. What isn’t Luongo’s fault?
So much was made about the up and down Stanley Cup Finals the Canucks and Luongo lost last season. Luongo was terrible in Boston, where it looked like he couldn’t stop anything.
There was plenty of blame to go around last season and last night, but for the majority of fans that blame is being laid at the feet of their goalie.
This is the road that Luongo has before him this season. He will get blamed for every loss, maybe even the ones he doesn’t play in and how he handles this scrutiny may tell how far Vancouver can go.
Canucks fans are like most sports fans.
Blaming the goalie, quarterback or starting pitcher is a long standing tradition. Some of it is warranted while usually, in a team sport, victory and defeat are the result of several players and plays.
Roberto Luongo, and the Canucks, have never played well in October, which the fans should keep in mind before jumping all over the guy’s back. Facts and reason don't seem to matter this year.
Last season seems to have left too much of a bad taste in people’s mouths. The calendar turning and Luongo getting hot may not matter this time around.
Every goal and every shaky save will be scrutinized and the jeering heard last night may become commonplace at Rogers Arena this year.
Luongo needs to block it out and just play.
Play the game he knows he can play. The game that got him nominated for a Vezina last season. The type of game that saw him get his team to within one game of the Stanley Cup.
The fans will come around…maybe.