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.
Stars, Rangers do their Caps – Pens impression in wild win for Dallas
If you watched only Tuesday’s Dallas Stars – New York Rangers game and yesterday’s manic Washington Capitals contest, you might believe that you were transported to the days of the 1988 Smythe Division.
That Penguins – Capitals game ended with an 8-7 overtime victory for Pittsburgh, while tonight’s 7-6 win for the Stars against the Rangers wasn’t far behind.
All the goals
Henrik Lundqvist gave up seven goals, eventually giving way to Magnus Hellberg in the third period. It’s been a rough go of things lately for the future Hall of Famer, with tonight marking the low point.
The Stars opened up leads of 3-1 in the first period and 7-3 through the first two frames, but as you can guess from the score, the Rangers stormed back with three goals in a surprisingly tight third period.
Kari Lehtonen saved the day for the Stars, stopping 12 of 12 after taking over about halfway through the third for Antti Niemi.
Much like with the Penguins – Capitals clash, it was about more than just seeing a lot of goals.
More than just a high-scoring game
Cody Eakin and Chris Kreider were in the thick of things. Eakin scored his first goal of 2016-17, a 7-3 tally that absurdly ended up being the game-winner. Kreider began the Rangers’ rally with his 18th goal of the season, hit Eakin with his own helmet during a fight and created his typical brand of chaos.
As much as this might sting the Rangers, and as concerned as they may be about Lundqvist’s play, at least it looks like Ryan McDonagh avoided injury despite this scary fall:
Gallant was an assistant coach with the Islanders from 2007 to 2009, so there’s some familiarity there with GM Garth Snow (it was early on in his reign). Gallant was unceremoniously fired by the Florida Panthers in late November, with plenty of rumors circulating that he didn’t jive well with the franchise’s analytics-driven mindset. Gallant denied those claims, for whatever that’s worth.
(If such rumblings are true, perhaps Gallant would agree with the questionable logic of giving limited, but heavy-hitting forward Cal Clutterbuck a contract extension. That would be an interesting question to ask him during an interview, eh?)
About the only bummer for everyone outside of Weight is that the Islanders already played their three games against the Panthers this season, so we’d have to wait until 2017-18 for whatever drama would come of that.
Robin Lehner’s furious anger seemingly directed at Sabres after being pulled
Update: There’s now full video to get a better sense of Robin Lehner‘s behavior.
The Maple Leafs ended up beating the Sabres 4-3 after Buffalo made the game awfully interesting.
Late last season, Ben Scrivens expressed relief in avoiding a fight with Robin Lehner, the Buffalo Sabres goalie he called “a bit of a psycho.” It sure seemed like the Sabres were the target of his frightening anger on Tuesday.
Lehner really didn’t seem too happy after being pulled from the game, whether that anger was directed at Dan Bylsma, his Sabres teammates or … everyone?
Watch him rage out after getting the hook following Toronto’s three-goal outburst in about nine minutes:
Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon has a pretty good knack for scoring goals, especially considering the fact that he doesn’t always take a ton of shots.
Maybe Bruce Boudreau should consider asking him to fire away a little more often.
You won’t see many prettier examples of hand-eye coordination than Spurgeon’s power-play goal from Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils, which gave the Wild a 1-0 lead. Watch it in the video above.
It’s almost impressive enough to justify rhyming his last name with surgeon. You know, theoretically.