The Roberto Luongo Debate – Part Two

Nucks IceMan@nucksiceman@twitter.comCorrespondent IMarch 28, 2010

MONTREAL- FEBRUARY 2:  Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks warms up prior to facing the Montreal Canadiens in their NHL game on February 2, 2010 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Canadiens defeated the Canucks 3-2.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Since this topic has been milked to death, and a lot of comments came from it, this will be the last that I mention it this season. Well maybe for a while since there are playoffs coming up. 

This term “greatness” has been bandied about in relation to Canucks Roberto Luongo’s goaltending performance since he arrived in Vancouver.

So let’s start out by expressing that Luongo,  like every other NHL goaltender, is good or they would not play in the best hockey league in the world, i.e. the NHL. Along with the starting goaltenders many teams have back-ups, who are also good.

This recognition of “greatness” seems to come from recognized local media writers, analysts and former NHL goaltenders that use this term when Luongo gets on one of his rolls and spits out 12-16 wins in a row, where there are 3-5 shutouts amongst those games and he plays “great”.

That is very much correct, because in those times his techniques seem flawless.

This is what I observe during those times that are different during his inconsistent periods, in which there have been more than in any other time as a Canuck.

His lateral movement is effortless, allowing him to be in position for shots from any angle and is compact.  He seems to be relaxed, wastes no extra movement, challenges the shooters and with his butterfly style stays in it longer, which allows that lateral movement to cover the down low area of the net.

His glove hand snares anything in his reach and sometimes beyond and the blocker does likewise deflecting. Being a tall person, the butterfly position does not allow the shooters much in the way of open areas to shoot at, except over his arms and shoulders.

During these times it is even hard beating him high. Very seldom will you see Luongo flopping around because of the above statements I have described. 

The puck just seems to hit him and he is also able to smoother the shots so there are no rebounds until he directs them deliberately to the corners or to his defensemen. There are few if any “soft” goals which seem to be prevalent during his inconsistent times.

This is the Luongo that displays the term “greatness” and is justly deserved.

This does not happen for 50-60 games consistently but sporadically and maybe that would be too much of an expectation.

Winning a couple of divisional titles and 40 plus games a year does not necessarily extend that greatness term either. Look around the league this year and see how many other good goaltenders that will also win 40 plus games this year.

Besides Luongo there are seven to eight who will also perform that feat, so that alone does not determine greatness. If that were so than Marty Brodeur, who has 40 wins already as I write, would wear that title, as he so justly deserves, because he has consistently done so over his lengthy career.

But Brodeur has also won many individual awards and a Stanley Cup and has performed at an elite level for most of his career, even now in the twilight of it.

This is the best overall Canucks team that Luongo has been a part of and this should be his time to shine not struggle. He does not have to be “great” but simple good and the key being “consistent”.

Because of the quality of young players and their depth it’s not like his first year with the Canucks, when he had to protect one goal leads in order to win. This team is not offensively challenged.

Luongo’s so called “greatness” will be determined by the playoffs and length of them and the number of times that occurs within his career.  Only then will that title be truly deserved and not anointed by all the spin doctors, because I’m not interested in partaking of this kool-aid.

But then again, that’s just my opinion. 

I would like to say thanks to all of you for the previous insightful comments whether we agreed or not.

It’s good to see we are all passionate about the Nucks!




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