Thursday, February 01, 2007

Running at Roberto

The Vancouver Canucks and their always involved fan base are getting a little tired of the liberties being taken with their all star goaltender, Roberto Luongo.

Game in and Game out, Luongo resembles a bumper car by the end of the sixty minutes of play as player after player, does their best to do a NASCAR demolition derby in the Canucks crease.

It’s been the topic of the sports talk shows in Vancouver the last few nights, 9-12 pm here and here, as the faithful call up to vent their spleens at the crude form of intimidation and less than frequent penalty calls when it happens.

It’s unfortunately for Luongo something that he’s going to have to endure for a while, most teams now realize that from the slot out Luongo is near unbeatable, his vision and reflexes are such that barring a fluke deflection, he’s going to make that save more often than not.

Thus the only hope that the opposition has is to crash the crease, bash at the puck (and goaltender it seems) and hope to score a junk goal that way. Both Columbus and Edmonton in the last three nights have taken to that approach, creating as much havoc as possible in the front of the crease and sometimes in and beyond it.

For Vancouver the key is to probably look to the trade market to bring in a solid stay at home defenceman more than willing to play the body and create a bit of space for Luongo to operate in. While there aren’t many the size of Zdeno Chara kicking around at the moment, someone of the same texture and spirit would do wonders not only on the defence but for team morale as well.

Once the Canucks can begin to show that their goaltender is not to be messed with, the more opportunities they will find at the other end of the rink as teams become a bit tentative in the Vancouver end.

Look for Dave Nonis to be scouring the roster sheets looking to see which player is up for free agency in the off season and which teams are in danger of capping out on their salary packages.

A solid addition to the D corps in Vancouver, could very well be the one key ingredient that finally helps them put some distance between themselves and the rest of the North West Division pack.

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