Through the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals, Roberto Luongo appeared to be the man destined to make a run at the Conn Smythe Trophy leading the Canucks to victory. He earned a shutout in Game 1 and held strong to get the Canucks to overtime to win Game 2.
In Boston, things took a vastly more disturbing turn as Luongo went on to allow 12 goals in 103 minutes played through Games 3 and 4 as the Canucks dropped both games by a combined score of 12-1. Cory Schneider took over for Luongo just minutes into the third period of Game 4 and did his part by stopping all nine shots he faced as the Bruins took Game 4 4-0.
So now we have to ask the question: Should Luongo start in Game 5? After all, the last time we saw Luongo get lit up this hard by an offense it came in Games 4 and 5 against Chicago in the first round of this year’s playoffs. Vancouver dropped Game 4 7-2 and then lost Game 5 5-0. Cory Schneider then got the call to start in Game 6, a game he ultimately left early thanks to injury and saw Luongo come into only to lose in overtime 4-3.
Some are thinking that coach Alain Vigneault might do the same thing this time around. We’re not so quick to jump on that bandwagon for a big reason. Against Chicago, the Canucks were playing with house money in Game 6. They had a 3-2 series lead heading into that game and if Schneider helped get the Canucks past their mental nemesis from Chicago, all was well. This time around the fate of the Stanley Cup finals hangs in the balance.
The winner of Game 5 will have a chance to end the series on Monday in Game 6. For Vancouver, a Game 5 loss could mean the end of the series given how poorly they played in Boston. For Vancouver, a win in Game 5 would mean they’d at least buy themselves a one game grace period should they get bombed on again in Boston. Versus’ Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick said they’d stick with Luongo for Game 5.
Of course, there’s the worry about whether or not Luongo is going through a mental phase here where he loses focus and confidence. You could argue that two or three of the goals he allowed in Game 4 he should’ve stopped. He certainly should’ve had Rich Peverley’s first goal that beat him five hole and he had to have Michael Ryder’s shot that beat him over the shoulder.
Luongo had his own reasons why he missed on Ryder’s goal saying the shot dipped about three feet after glancing off Sami Salo’s stick. We’re a bit skeptical of that take but we’re not the pros here.
So what would you do? Would you go back to your Vezina Trophy finalist who had a couple of bad games or would you go with your rookie backup goalie who has looked decent in the limited duty he’s had in the playoffs? Let us know in the comments and vote in our poll as to what you would do.