Despite a healthy Roberto Luongo, Cory Schneider will start in goal for the Canucks tonight in Colorado. It will be Schneider’s third straight start. On Sunday, he stopped 28 shots in a 2-1 overtime win versus the Senators in which he was named first star.
“We needed one of our goaltenders to come in and steal us a game where it wasn’t pretty and that’s what Schneids did tonight,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault told reporters after the game. “To win in this league and in a consistent fashion you need great goaltending. … I thought Schneids was our best player on the ice.”
Luongo last played Nov. 13 against the Islanders, after which he was sidelined with an undisclosed upper-body injury. He says he’s ready to go, but understands the decision to start Schneider.
“We all know how important wins are,” Luongo said. “Obviously, Schneids stole one for us last game, which was nice to see and hopefully as a duo we can keep doing that.”
Vancouver is 10-9-1, 11th in the Western Conference, and needs to start stringing some victories together to get back in a playoff position.
So…what happens if Schneider is brilliant again tonight? The 25-year-old has the superior stats (2.52 GAA, .912 SV%) compared to Luongo (2.97 GAA, .896 SV%). If Vigneault’s “the best players will play” mantra is sincere – and based on his willingness to make big-money defenseman Keith Ballard a healthy scratch, it’s hard to say it’s not – how will he approach his goaltending situation going forward? Does he ride the hot hand while Luongo wears the ball cap on the bench?
To be fair, Luongo has been much better in November after a poor October (as per tradition). So it’s not like he deserves to sit and feel shame. Not to mention, Schneider was lit up by the Blackhawks before he put up a brick wall against the Sens.
But goaltending controversies are fun, so let’s run with this.