Schneider Sign

Schneider will start seventh straight, but is it a controversy?


“Who’s calling it that? Well, again, who cares? That’s not being said in this room. We had two good goalies last year and it helped us in a lot of games. I don’t know why it’s being spun into a bad thing.”

Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa on Vancouver’s “goaltending controversy“.

Cory Schneider will start his seventh straight tonight while Roberto Luongo backs him up (for the fifth straight time). It looks and feels like a hot story. Yet somehow, it’s not the hot story.

The hot story is how to classify the story.

Or, if it should be classified at all.

At the moment there are two predominant opinions about Schneider, Luonogo and the current state of Vancouver’s goaltending. The first is that it’s a full-blown controversy. The other is move along, nothing to see here.

Those of the first opinion are ink-stained, coffee-breathed pencil pushers from mainstream media (or sweatpants-wearing, Doritos-munching basement dwellers from the blogosphere).

They’re churning out headlines like:

Is there a ‘goalie controversy?’ The Canucks don’t think so

Cory Schneider’s play keeping Luongo on the bench

Daily Debate: Best net option for Canucks?

Would the Canucks have won Tuesday with Roberto Luongo in net?

Canucks goalie controversy: Schneider has won five straight

It’s not like the controversy theme has been pulled out of thin air. Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault acknowledged the potential uneasiness looming with every Schneider start (and Luongo non-start.)

“I understand how unpleasant it could become,” Vigneault told the Vancouver Province. “But at the end of the day, he’s [Luongo’s] a professional, it’s part of his responsibilities and knowing him, he wants to win, and the team is winning right now.

That said, there are plenty of people holding opinion No. 2 — that there is no goalie controversy.

Bieksa is one of those people. So too is GM Mike Gillis, who told TEAM 1040 radio in Vancouver that “there’s no controversy,” and that “the controversy is in the media.”

Put Schneider and Luongo in this category as well.

“We just do what we normally do,” Schneider said. “It’s not awkward.”

“He never complained and was always 100-per-cent behind me,” Luongo said of Schneider. “The same thing goes for me. He deserves what he’s getting right now. There’s no doubt that he could be a starter in this league. It’s about the Vancouver Canucks winning games.”

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.