A lot of things come to mind when you hear the name Roberto Luongo.
Naturally, there’s the goalie battle he had with Cory Schneider as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, which only seems odder today. One might also think of his often-hysterical and frequently self-deprecating Twitter feed. Even Luongo hates his lengthy contract, so that tends to cloud judgments about him, too. Few really throw the phrase “Hall of Fame” around, though.
There’s a pretty solid argument that people should, even if goalies tend to face a tougher road to the HHOF than skaters. Let’s take a quick look at some of his credentials and maybe a few minuses:
He owns a couple gold medals and was the starter in Canada’s 2010 thrilling win.
In the last decade, only Martin Brodeur’s 323 wins tops Luongo’s 318. He’s nearing 400 in his career as he sits with 373.
It’s not just about wins, though; his individual stats are solid too. Luongo and Henrik Lundqvist both average a .920 save percentage since 2003-04, leaving them in select company as truly reliable “elites.”
Luongo put up strong numbers on a bad team (Florida) and in a hockey hotbed (Vancouver).
That said, many will hold a high-profile down note or two against him. Most notably, Luongo struggled in the last five games of that memorable 2011 Stanley Cup Final. He combined a Game 5 shutout with losses in which he allowed three goals twice, four tallies once and a whopping eight in Game 3. The Chicago Blackhawks also gave him fits over the years.
Also, as stable and solid as Luongo’s been, he’s never won a Vezina Trophy. Some voters gravitate toward flashier numbers and awards, after all.
At 35, Luongo still has plenty of time to add trophies and wins to his potential Hall of Fame resume. Still, it’s fun to prognosticate based on his current path and ask if he’s worthy of Hall of Fame induction.
If someone told you that the New York Rangers started a goalie on back-to-back nights, and that goalie wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist, you’d probably wonder if he was hurt or retired.
Nope. It just so happens that Antti Raanta is playing at an incredibly high level, Alain Vigneault noticed, and that decision paid dividends on Friday night. Raanta won both nights of a back-to-back, allowing a single goal (with the Rangers protecting him, being that he only needed to stop 43 of 44 shots during that span).
Raanta and the Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 overtime win, at least briefly climbing to first place in the massively competitive Metro Division:
1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP
Nick Holden ended up scoring the only goal of the game:
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lost but at least salvaged a standings point and it seems like Patrick Kane is OK after this injury scare:
Raanta improved to 7-1-0 on the season, allowing two goals or less in all but one of his appearances so far this season. That’s the kind of work you’d expect to see if you’re going sit a guy who’s, you know, a living legend.
Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings
As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.
For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.
They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.
The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.
On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.
It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.
This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.
That’s impressive stuff.
This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:
The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.