We Have The Best

June 19, 2011

It has been 5 years since ex Canuck GM, Dave Nonis brought in Roberto Luongo on the sunny day of June 23, 2006. It is arguably the biggest trade in Canuck history (at least that went well). Looking back at the innocent, yet promising 27 year old, who would ever think that he bring so much success to the Canuck organization but blamed in the media for every disappointment. On that day in June,the Vancouver Canucks knew they had the best.  

Since arriving in Vancouver, all Roberto has faced is the question: is he the best? Luongo has continued to prove all of his doubters wrong through his play. Who could forget his first year in Vancouver where he out duelled Marty Turco in a shooters nightmare in the first round of the 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs? Since that marvellous first season, Bobby-Luo has never gone higher than a 2.57 goals against average or lower then a .913 save percentage. Every year Luongo blanks his opponent at least 4 times a year. Let’s not forget to mention he has lead his team to the promised land 4 out of the 5 seasons. The most recent playoffs, Roberto carried his Canucks past 3 difficult oppositions, until they stumbled 1 game short in the finals. The stats speak for themselves, he is the best.

Roberto Luongo not only has the numbers to back his play up, but he has earned praise around hockey with countless awards and honours. In the years we have the dreadful all-star game, our own Canuck puck stopper has been invited every season. In 2007, Roberto won the Mark Messier Leadership Award, the highest honour a leader can get. Hockey Canada has invited him to the 2006 and 2010 Olympic winter games, where the Vancouver 2010 tournament ended with Luongo waving the golden Canadian flag as the crowd chanted LLLLLUUUUOOOOO! This past season we saw Luongo posting career best numbers earning him his third Vezina nomination and securing the Jennings for having the fewest goals against in the NHL. It seems like the awards are on an unstoppable rate for the best goalie in the NHL.

The anti-Luongo movement is poorly supported with arguments from fans and media in Vancouver and around the NHL.  At first, most questioned his ability to play in the playoffs, and then he played his first series in the 2006 playoffs and shut down that genius idea. Next the fans and media wondered if he could win the big game. The 2010 Olympics’ came around and Roberto became a hero to our great nation. Running out of feeble points, Luongo haters came up with the Blackhawk theory, saying that the Canucks led by Luongo can never make it past the Hawks. Well, Luongo took the Hawks to a game 7 this year, where he shut the door until gritty Alex Burrows sniped the puck past Crawford. Now the strongest case against Roberto is him not having a cup ring. These people forget that many greats don’t get to kiss that silver hardware until late in their career, as in Bourque, Yzerman, and Brind’Amour. There are many that won’t even get a chance;  Iginla, Dionne, and Hawerchuk. The book is still out on Roberto Luongo, but he has already been to the finals once and is part of an excellent core group of players in Vancouver that will be a serious threat for Lord Stanley over the next five years. Roberto continues to prove all of his doubters wrong, showing his ability to be the best.

There isn’t a goalie I would rather have lace up for my team than Roberto Luongo. If I was to build a team around a goaltender, then I would take him in a heartbeat. Year after year, Luongo is constantly putting up hall of fame numbers. Looking around the NHL, we as Canuck fans are lucky. Thomas was a backup last year to Rask;  Brodeur is on a steep decline;  Kipprusoff isn’t looking the same anymore; Price is now into his first year as a true number one; and Miller’s stats are good but not quite Luongo-like. The Vancouver media and fans should realise how blessed we are to have a goalie of this stature, especially considering the goalie graveyard we used to have. Let’s sit back and enjoy all that we have until it is gone. Roberto Luongo is the best.

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Petersen NHL Preview – Vancouver Canucks

October 3, 2010

Can Hank have build off of last years success?

After a year of many positives for Canuck fans, the season ended with fans scratching there heads wondering what went wrong. The Sedin’s had a monster year with the Nuckleheads, ending with Henrik winning the Art Ross and the Hart Trophies. Alexander Burrows had a nice 2010 campaign, leading the Canucks in goals with 35. Kesler, Raymond, Samuelsson, and Erhoff all had solid offensive numbers last season. It surprised everyone when the Canucks finished a top of the league with goal scoring, coming from a defence first hockey team. Luongo had a good season in net, but wasn’t himself. By the time the playoffs rolled around it caught up to Luongo. Once again the Canucks lost in the second round to the Chicago Blackhawks. Another factor for the second round exit was the Canucks defence looked bad against the high flying ‘Hawks offence. Mitchell missed the playoffs due to a hit from behind by Evgeni Malkin and it showed on Vancouver’s blue line.

With the offseason additions by Mike Gillis, the expectations are weighing on the club. Many fans are all ready saying, “this year is the year”.

Last Season: 49-28-5, 103 points, 3rd in the Western Conference

Incoming: Dan Hamhuis, Keith Ballard, Manny Malhotra, Raffi Torres, Jeff Tambellini, Victor Oreskovich, Joel Perrault

Outgoing: Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier, Pavol Demitra, Willie Mitchell, Kyle Wellsood, Andrew Raycroft

Reason For Hope: The city is buzzing about the Vancouver Canucks and there chance to make a run at Lord Stanley. The Canucks are pegged by many experts to win the Stanley Cup. Vancouver was close last year, but after a few offseason pickups, adding depth to the blueline and grit to the bottom six forwards, the Canucks have the best team in the league on paper. UFA singing, Dan Hamhuis was thrilled to sign with Vancouver on July the 1st. He returns to his home province and comes to a team that has a shot at winning something. Hamhuis will play top 4 minutes on defence and has high expectations. The other UFA signed by Mike Gillis was Manny Malhotra who is expected to eat up minutes on the third line and help out a struggling PK unit. Keith Ballard was traded to Vancouver before the trade deadline for Grabner, Bernier, and the Canucks first rounder. Ballard will add both depth and a physical presence on the ‘Nucks defence. Mike Gillis has made sure this offseason to pick up as much depth as he can. But, the main reason for all the optimism around this Canuck team is Henrik Sedin coming off a career best year winning the Hart and Art Ross trophies. Fans are excited about Henirks follow-up year and to see what he has in store. Also anytime you have Luongo in net there is a chance to go far. He has come to training camp this year shredding a few pounds (will hopefully help out his side to side movement) and a chip on his shoulder, Luongo is a determined man. With a core of the Sedins, Luongo, Burrows, Kesler, Raymond, Hamhuis, Edler, and Ehrhoff, what’s not to like about this Canuck team?

 

This is Roberto Luongo's team and how he plays will dictate the outcome of the season

What Could Go Wrong? : For the past 40 years, the Canucks have been in the league and have never won a cup. As a religious Canuck fan, it seems the Canucks just find a way to lose when it counts. The last couple of season’s the Canucks have been cup contenders but have collapsed under pressure. It worries me that the same will happen this year. Luongo has looked shaky his last few post-season appearances and is hoping to forget the past and have a great 2011 playoffs. This is Roberto Luongo’s team and how he plays in the playoffs is how the rest of the team will play. Also I know it’s only preseason, but Keith Ballard hasn’t look like anything special and if making the Canucks was based on how he played, he would be starting the year with the Moose. Kevin Bieksa has been in a slow and steady decline over the past few years, which really worries me. Vigneault’s headache, Shane O’Brien was placed on waivers on Saturday and isn’t likely to wear a Canuck uniform this season. Finally Salo is expected to miss a big chunk of the season coming off surgery from a torn Achilles tendon. With all these factors the Canucks blue line isn’t as deep as we thought it was.

Prediction: 1st-3rd in the Western Conference