27 April 2011
I mean after that loss they were, apparently, totally in his head. The Blackhawks had shaken Luongo’s faith in his ability to it’s very core which is why he struggled out of the gate this season after that devastating playoff loss. In his first five games he had a Save % under .900 3 times capped by back to back losses against Los Angeles and Anaheim in which his save percentage was .789 and .667. Clearly this was a shaken goaltender with no confidence.
Luckily for Luongo after that bad stretch his next game against a team in which he could build his confidence back up because he had zero baggage with that opponent. His next game was against....The Chicago Blackhawks!?! And he saved 31/32 (.969) in an OT Loss.
AHA! Loss is the key word there. Clearly the Blackhawks were still in his head. He Lost. And proof they were in his head: he gave up 4 goals on 20 shots before being pulled in a 7-1 Loss. See Luongo lust had a mental block against the Blackhawks. And the ball of mush in his head couldn't handle these big bad Blackhawks anymore as evidenced by Luongo’s next start in which he.... was 1st star in a 32-save shutout.
Ahh, but that was regular season, and that doesn't count (even though that 7-1L and other loss somehow totally count). Also not counting: the 4-3 win in February in which he stopped 42/45. again: February. Once the playoffs came around we would all see how fragile Luongo was, especially that first game against his arch-nemesis. And sure enough in that first playoff game Luongo was battered by the Blackhawks to the tune of... a 32-save shutout. Oh and he’d follow that up with 2 more wins, in which he played well (23/26 .885, 31/32 .969) helping the Canucks get a 3-0 lead.
So after last years playoff defeats against the Blackhawks Luongo’s mental ooze was so battered and broken that the next 7 games against the Blackhawks he posted the Dan Cloutier-esque stat line of 5-1-1 .945 Sv% 2 SO (3 playoff wins).
You would think this would be enough to put to bed all the “Blackhawks own Luongo” nonsense, but you’d be a naïve fool. Of course the Blackhawks were just toying with him, purposely going down 3-0 in a playoff series just to torment poor Roberto. I mean they were the ultimate goalie tormentors, and they had the ultimate torment planned. So they battered him in game 4 and 5 to the tune of a .786 & .667 save percentage the next two games (which coincidentally look a ton like the .789 &.668 sv% he had against LA and ANH in October. But those teams don’t own him so it wasn’t important).
But those 2 losses, they sure showed Luongo to be a battered broken man. so much so that the coach pulled him in game 6. Then, just to torment him a little more, the Blackhawks hurt Cory Schneider forcing Luongo to face them down again. All this battered beaten husk of a goaltender crumbled under the pressure, stopping only 12/13 shots. I mean in overtime he only stopped the initial shot in which 95% of goaltenders would have never seen. What’s a matter Roberta! that extremely tough blocker save which was tipped that everyone downplayed because it didn’t fit the narrative was too much for you? Couldn’t stop the rebound from the guy left wide-open by your Selke Candidate forward? Pussy.
Then Game 7 came and this shell of a goaltender, tormented past his breaking point by a team that found success because they were in no way just a good hockey team, was a dead man walking. I mean how could one man overcome this kind of demented torment. The meltdown was all but assured...except he saved 31/32 in a series clinching OT win. Including 3 save on the PK in OT, and one spectacular (dare I say “clutch”? DARE. DARE.) save late.
So overall after the Blackhawks obviously turned Roberto Luongo, into a walking ball of goaltender goo, the next season he ended up with a stat line of: 6-4-1 .921 SV% 2SO and a playoff series win against his tormentors.
So this obviously ridiculous “Luongo is haunted by the Blackhawks because they are totally in his head” narrative is dead and buried right? I mean the narrative has to be that Luongo conquered his demons (that were never all that terrorizing or threatening to begin with). There’s no way to spin this to leave the door open to this Pandora’s box of rationalization ever again right!... right?
The Blackhawks failed to create chaos in front of Roberto Luongo for one simple reason: The Canucks were protecting their keeper like the Tri-Lambs protected the Nerds from the jocks. It's hard to set screens and get in his face when Vancouver is collapsing five in the zone.
Was Luongo good? Sure, but outside of a couple saves in the third period his performance was workmanlike and occasionally worrisome; which, considering his broken psyche entering the game, naturally garnered overpraise. It was the goaltending equivalent of seeing a stroke victim slowly regain his motor skills.
Oh good fucking grief. As much as I like Wyshynski, this is grasping at narrative straws. I get why writers would want to keep this alive. It’s a fascinating narrative. Luongo is a great reluctant protagonist. Luongo's worst defeats have been at the hands of the Blackhawks. The series had more plots and sub plots than an Alexandre Dumas novel. It’s a great story, and it’s always difficult to let great stories end. But, much like Michael Scott's time on the office, the story arc is over (and started getting a little old a while ago). Let it go. Luongo, for all the bluster and over pop-psycho analysis played the way he always has: Oftentimes brilliant, occasionally crappy, better than most.
In other words: he’s a goalie. One who has bad games, but happens to have more good ones than most goalies. Even against the Blackhawks.