Tag: goalie controversy

Roberto Luongo, Cory Schneider

Canucks coach says Luongo is his No. 1 goalie


Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault will start goalie Cory Schneider against the Columbus Blue Jackets this evening. It’ll be the sixth consecutive time Vigneault’s started Schneider, a decision that’s led some to suggest Schneider — not the incumbent starter, Roberto Luongo — is the new No. 1 goalie in Vancouver.

Not so, says Vigneault.

“Roberto wants to play, he is a competitor, he is a very proud guy,” Vigneault told the Vancouver Sun. “He knows he is the No. 1 goaltender on this team and he wants to play. But at the end of the day Cory right now is playing real well and those are the decisions a coach has to make.”

Not that this decision was especially tough. Schneider’s riding a four-game winning streak and has allowed just two goals on his last 91 shots faced — if anything, the decision not to play him would’ve been contentious.

Would Vancouver ever officially make Luongo its backup?

Those in the “Hell No” camp point to Luongo’s albatross of a contract (only 11 years and $54 million to go!) as the primary reason why.

Successful teams have employed spendy backups in the past — Tim Thomas was once a $5 million backup in Boston, Chicago won a Stanley Cup with Cristobal Huet making $5.6 million on the bench — but the Vancouver situation is a lot different.

The Canucks couldn’t conceivably buy out Luongo, because they’d be paying it out until the year 2063 (approximately).  It’s also unlikely he’d accept being a Swiss league loaner to free Vancouver of his cap hit (not to accuse Chicago or anything). There are also legitimate concerns that, given the amount of hockey he’s played, Luongo’s best days are behind him — casting doubt on a potential Thomas-like revival to reclaim the starting gig.

(Remember, the 37-year-old Thomas is still at only 335 games played for his career. Luongo hit that total by the time he was 26.)

So, when does Luongo play again? The Canucks begin a four-game homestand starting tonight, so you’d expect he’ll get one of the games against Nashville (Dec. 1), Calgary (Dec. 4) or Colorado (Dec. 6).

But if you’re looking for dramatic narratives, keep an eye on who Vancouver starts on Thurs, Dec. 8 — when the Canucks head into Luongo’s hometown of Montreal to take on the Habs.

Luongo can keep waiting, Schneider starts again tonight

Cory Schneider

If you’ve been sitting at home pining to see the return of Roberto Luongo in goal, you might want to clutch your Luongo Canucks jersey a little tighter.

Cory Schneider is getting the start once again tonight for Vancouver against the Sharks. Schneider earned a shutout last night against Phoenix and Alain Vigneault is sticking with the hot hand. Hey why not, he’s said it’s a “no brainer” move after all. This makes five straight starts now for Schneider.

Luongo being healthy enough to play hasn’t been the issue lately, instead it’s Vancouver shaking off their playoff hangover and getting things right again. Schneider shutting teams out and playing great in goal makes the decision easy, but at some point Luongo’s got to get it going.

Canucks fans clamoring for Schneider to start have been getting their wishes fulfilled of late but the fact is, Luongo is their man and getting him back in form is the key for Vancouver. It’ll happen eventually, but the battle lines are drawn amongst the fan base. Team Cory and Team Roberto is about as weird of a “Twilight” comparison as you’ll ever see.

Mad genius or mad man? Bruce Boudreau’s accidental goalie controversy stirs the pot

Bruce Boudreau

Tomas Vokoun gets to start tonight’s game against Tampa Bay for the Washington Capitals (7 p.m. on Versus). If we’d have told you that were going to be a big deal before the season, you’d probably tell us we were crazy. Instead, it’s part of the season’s most surprising controversy.

Bruce Boudreau’s choice to start Michal Neuvirth in the Caps’ season opener against Carolina caught not just Vokoun off guard but the rest of the NHL world as well. After all, when a player is brought in to be the team’s starting goalie and they don’t start the first game, that’s going to be questioned.

Boudreau has a lot of pressure heading into this season and with the additions the Caps made in the offseason, the one position that figured to be without drama was goalie. Now, it’s the biggest story of the early part of the season for Washington and one that has Caps fans rushing to defend Boudreau while outsiders raise more questions about what he’s doing behind the bench.

Neuvirth had the more impressive preseason while Vokoun struggled. Rewarding good play is something a coach should be commended for. Instead, Boudreau is under fire for not being able to manage personalities the right way. Whether there’s a controversy as to who the starter is or not (those on the inside say there isn’t one), it’s going to be a story line that hangs around all season long.

Where Boudreau is getting things right is getting these issues figured out early in the season rather than having them pop up late in the year and potentially derail a playoff run. For Boudreau’s sake, he’d better hope that things do get figured out by the time the playoffs roll around, or else it will be his job that’ll be on the line.

It’ll be on Vokoun to show that Boudreau made a mistake by beating the team that took Washington out of the playoffs last year. Is Bruce Boudrean a mad genius or mad man? We’ve got all season to figure that out.

No controversy? Tomas Vokoun will start Monday


For a huge chunk of fantasy hockey fans (oh yeah, and plenty of Washington Capitals hopefuls), Michal Neuvirth’s Saturday start was a cause for concern. To little surprise, Tomas Vokoun wasn’t very happy.

Neuvirth looked good in a 4-3 overtime win yesterday, but it’s likely that Vokoun will still get the majority of the starts. Katie Carrera reports that he’ll make his belated regular season debut with Washington on Monday.

My guess is that Vokoun should still receive at least 55 starts this season. That’s a fine number to keep the veteran netminder healthy for the 2012 playoffs (if they make it, naturally) while also giving Neuvirth enough reps to be reasonably happy. People tend to have tunnel vision for just the next season – and sometimes it’s just about the next few games – but Neuvirth has a chance to be the goalie of the future.

Head coach Bruce Boudreau received a lot of criticism for this decision, but he might be onto something. He’s helping his team both now and later, although it’s possible that the bellicose coach isn’t doing much for his shaky short-term future.

(H/T to Rotoworld.)

Tomas Vokoun not exactly happy about not starting Caps’ season opener

Tomas Vokoun

When it was announced that Michal Neuvirth was getting the start on opening night over Tomas Vokoun, it stunned just about everyone. You can include Vokoun in that group of people surprised by it and that can’t exactly bode well for him and he voiced his confusion about it.

Vokoun says not starting the first game is something he’s not comfortable with and he certainly didn’t expect it to happen given that he was brought in to be the Caps’ starting goalie.

Neuvirth’s strong preseason record and strong play in goal helped Bruce Boudreau decide to give him the start tonight, but for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations, you’d think giving the guy you brought in to win you the Cup would at least get the nod at home for the first game of the season.

Not so much, however. For Vokoun, it’s his first big test of mental toughness and while it’s hard enough for a goalie to deal with opponents, having to deal with a situation on your own team makes for a different brand of struggle. Vokoun has a history of rough starts to the season, he’ll need to avoid one this year to keep from giving Neuvirth the chance to start even more games.