It appears Roberto Luongo’s days may be numbered in Vancouver after the team turned to Cory Schneider during this year’s playoffs. Schneider has a lot going for him at the moment. He is younger than Luongo, the Canucks seem to have more confidence in him, and he may even be the third Sedin brother. DNA results remain inconclusive.
To supplant a goalie like Luongo you don’t just have to be good, you have to be great. Luongo has been everything you could ask for as a starting goalie during his time in the National Hockey League. With a career .919 save percentage, 60 shutouts, and an Olympic Gold Medal, Luongo has established himself as one of the best in the game.
While Luongo did not play poorly in 2011-12, Schneider simply played better. There comes a time where a player is playing so well the team simply can’t ignore it and has to make a tough decision. Schneider has forced the Canucks to do just that.
Schneider finished third overall in goals against average in the regular season with a mark of 1.96. His save percentage numbers put him in that same elite class, as he finished second overall in that area.
Schneider’s numbers may be top notch, but he has never had to carry a starter’s workload in the NHL. Luongo has always played the majority of the Canucks’ games. In fact in 2011-12 only 25% of Schneider’s wins came against playoff teams, while nearly 50% of Luongo’s wins did. This is primarily due to the fact that as a backup Schneider doesn’t face nearly as many elite teams as Luongo does.
Another thing that appears to be evident is how much confidence Vancouver has playing in front of Schneider. While it is impossible to measure how a team feels when a certain goalie is between the pipes, there may be some telling statistics that could shine some light on the situation. Have a look at the average shots per game that both Schneider and Luongo face.
They both face almost the exact same amount of pucks each game, but watch when you look at the degree of difficulty of those shots.
This stat shows that the degree of difficulty of Schneider’s shots are tougher than Luongo’s. Now a two foot difference on average may not seem like a lot, but it can make a big difference at the NHL level. The more confident you are in your goalie, the more chances you will be willing to take offensively since you believe your netminder will bail you out.
For the Canucks it seems like Schneider is the best choice. It’s not necessarily anything that Luongo has done because he has been solid, but Schneider has just been that much better. The only thing that Luongo does have working against him is his massive contract which runs until 2022 where he will start collecting Old Age Pension. Well not quite, but at that point he will still be in his early forties. Not to mention that in each year of that deal the Canucks will take over a $5 million cap hit. If General Manager Mike Gillis was smart he would ask Glen Sather how he pulled off that Scott Gomez trade and make it happen.
When you sit near the top of the league in goals against average and save percentage, it would be hard for the team to justify using Schneider as a backup. That has been the frustrating part for fantasy owner’s because as far as statistics go Schneider is a great asset, but you have to weigh the pros and cons of him only playing about 30 games. Hopefully for next season, poolies will not have to make that decision if Luongo has moved on and Schneider has taken over the reigns in Van City.