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Gradual Decline in Luongo's Game?

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Old
10-31-2011, 08:32 PM
  #1
JetsAlternate
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Gradual Decline in Luongo's Game?

As a Canucks fan, I have been forced to witness a gradual decline in Roberto's game. It hasn't at all been evident to many fans that his game has changed just because of how much time has passed. To find out more, I dug up many clips from the NHL archives to showcase what Roberto used to be known for -- clutch goaltending night after night.

Roberto has changed. What we have seen these past few years has been different from what we first saw in his first season with the team. He used to challenge, play the angles, and react with such speed that shooters would be left bewildered at not having scored. Roberto Luongo, throughout his days as a Panther and when he first joined the Canucks, was a real star that teams could only dream of having. Gradually, his style has morphed into something completely different, something we have all complained about. He falls flat on his face now, resorts to flopping in dire moments, and rarely challenges. His flashy glove hand has disappeared, and his lateral movement has slowed. That confidence has vanished.

Roberto's most dominant year was his first year with this team. He carried the team into the playoffs in 2006-07. The team lacked any offense, and resorted to a stingy defensive system. Roberto, night after night, made sure it was always a one-goal game. In fact, throughout that season we were known for one-goal leads with low scores and terrific goaltending that could single-handedly win games for our offensively-challenged team.

He seems to have lost the ability to single-handedly win games. He has lost that ability to stare down his opponent and instill fear into the eyes of the shooter. Something has changed. He isn't the same goalie, whether it's due to a gradual change in style, a different mental approach, or a combination of such factors. The players in front of him have changed as well, and his top two defensemen from that first season have been gone for a few years now. I don't think anybody could question Mattias Ohlund or Willie Mitchell when they were Canucks.

Things never stay the same. Roberto has worsened since he first joined the team, though the roster in front of him has improved tremendously as well, counterbalancing any signs of deterioration in his game. He was aggressive and daring. Now he falls flat on his face, stomach-first, in every desperate situation. No longer do we see any spectacular lunging, side-to-side lateral movement or pad-stacking.

I support Luongo, but I hope he reaches this level of dominance once again. Right now, that's not the Luongo we have. What we truly miss is the Roberto who clearly was the league MVP of 2006-07, and one of the best players every night in the playoffs. He was consistent, spectacular, and fearsome to the opposition.

He was the hero every night.

I looked through various archives to find footage of Roberto from his first season with this team. Just look at the way he made his saves-- he looked nothing like the goalie he is now. His lateral movement was excellent. He was bold and courageous. He was flashy, confident, determined to fight for the puck and never give up. He was never intimidated, and always calm and cool. That's the goalie Canucks fans want to see, not this new Luongo.

*I put these videos together today to illustrate my point. I have compiled many saves, as well as a piece from his first season about Grant Fuhr's influence, into this one piece of evidence. Observe his positioning and the way he makes his saves. Compare his style then to the style you see today.



And this one showcases how amazing he could be during the playoffs.
He was the sole reason we defeated the Dallas Stars, and he kept us in the Ducks series despite the lack of team scoring (Jeff Cowan scored the only goal in each of the first two games!). Roberto was a clutch playoff performer and this video makes that clear.



I personally want the old Roberto back, and I'll speak for others when I say the Roberto we have seen these past few years is not the same goalie we unanimously believed in. There was once a time when we all had faith in him. Roberto Luongo's style has been completely overhauled, though, and I'm not sure I like it. What we saw in the third period on Saturday was a flash of his former self, snapping the glove out in spectacular fashion with incredible reflex, robbing Alex Ovechkin. I wish I could say that Luongo would be the one we will see in the coming months. I believe I'm not alone when I say he is nothing like his former self, though.

Roberto's claim to fame came with the old style of his. He rose to the top and became a superstar with such acrobatic and aggressive goaltending. He was taught to be aggressive, acrobatic and reactive all his life. He was mentored by Francois Allaire and shined as a star in the earlier half of his career. He relied on a combination of instinct and technique, and pulled through even when the situation looked grim. His new style is nothing like what he was known for in the past -- and it's killing his reputation and performance.

As hockey fans, we like goaltenders who make important, spectacular saves often. He used to do that, and people used to acknowledge that he was one of the best, if not the best, goaltender in the league. Nowadays, it's rare to see any praise, and for good reason.

The Roberto Luongo of old is seemingly gone, and unless he reverts to the style he is most comfortable with, we will only continue to see a decline. Simply comparing the two styles, I can safely say the Roberto Luongo playing now is nothing like the Roberto Luongo of five years ago.


Last edited by Chairman Maouth: 11-01-2011 at 11:51 AM.
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Old
10-31-2011, 08:41 PM
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Good Post and very true. He has declined since 06-07.

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10-31-2011, 08:44 PM
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By the way, if you're not in the mood to read, I feel the videos are the most important part of what I have to say. They highlight was Roberto was capable of before. In summary, Roberto has worsened since he joined the team. He is now playing a style that is counter-intuitive to everything he has learned throughout his life.

The changes are so drastic that they might as well have been two different players. One was a clutch superstar, the other is an inconsistent mess. It's sad to see what has happened to him.


Last edited by JetsAlternate: 10-31-2011 at 08:47 PM. Reason: QDP
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10-31-2011, 08:44 PM
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A lot of the changes you see in his play are intentional changes. A change in style from a goalie who challenges to a goalie who plays positionally.

There is no doubt that his confidence has taken repeated hits given how his past 4 seasons have ended, but his style of play is not a byproduct of his confidence.

As a Canucks fan, no I don't want to see him change his style back. Since his groin injury he has not possessed the same lateral movement, so I would not want to see him play a style where he is dependant on his lateral movement.

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10-31-2011, 08:46 PM
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He had his best season last season.... Luongo is a top 5 goalie still and was top 3 last season.


Last edited by Trebek: 10-31-2011 at 08:47 PM. Reason: Flaming
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10-31-2011, 08:46 PM
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I think it's a bit disingenuous to use highlights of Luongo's greatest performance ever to contrast with his current gameplay. He was amazing back then, but he was on a complete other level (a Hasek level) for the Dallas series. And so was Turco. I've often thought that that might be the best two-sided goaltending series in hockey history.

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10-31-2011, 08:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScubaaaBob View Post
He had his best season last season....Luongo is a top 5 goalie still and was top 3 last season.
and was inconsistent through the playoffs. troubles against chicago, bad goals against nashville, terrible against boston.


Last edited by Trebek: 10-31-2011 at 08:48 PM. Reason: QEP
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10-31-2011, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by serge2k View Post
and was inconsistent through the playoffs. troubles against chicago, bad goals against nashville, terrible against boston.
IMO, completely a confidence issue with Chicago and Boston. With Nashville, he had some piss-poor luck on some of those goals.

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10-31-2011, 08:50 PM
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Here's Luongo's ES Sv% from 2000-01 to 2010-11:

0.930
0.928
0.925
0.937
(lockout)
0.926
0.928 (first year with Canucks)
0.929
0.936
0.925
0.934

Really don't see any evidence of "decline."

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10-31-2011, 08:52 PM
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I always defended Luongo, but he really blew it in the finals. I'm not sure fans in Vancouver will ever give him a fair ride now.

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10-31-2011, 08:53 PM
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I don't particularly disagree that he isn't quite on the same level as he was when he first arrived in 06/07, but he's still a very good goaltender. It seems to me that his biggest issue, and one that has developed ever since he first ran into the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2009 Semi-Finals, is his confidence. Before then, he was absolutely spilling over with confidence and that was pretty inspiring stuff for the team. His whole "I will be in the playoffs this year, nothing will stop me" quote from 06/07 was wicked.

But then the 2009 Playoffs occurred, and that confidence is now somewhat easily shaken. He has great games and great stretches of play, but when one thing goes wrong, it seems to snowball.

He still is one of the better goaltenders in the game, and arguably one of the best when he's on.

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10-31-2011, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by serge2k View Post
and was inconsistent through the playoffs. troubles against chicago, bad goals against nashville, terrible against boston.
I agree he's inconsistent and needs to work on that and this could have something to do with the new style he uses now/new goaltending coach? but Luongo is still a top goalie.

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10-31-2011, 08:54 PM
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I always defended Luongo, but he really blew it in the finals. I'm not sure fans in Vancouver will ever give him a fair ride now.
See, I don't get this. The whole team really blew it in the finals. How hard is that to see?

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10-31-2011, 08:55 PM
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Canucks fans will forget about Lu's perceived performance issue when he leads the team to the promised land.

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10-31-2011, 08:59 PM
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The OP puts up a nice-looking wall of text, but contains very little analysis or insight. It doesn't make any real effort to critically examine the evidence at hand, probably because it doesn't consider any evidence (other than a highlight reel of the playoffs in 2007). It's probably no surprise, then, that the OP's conclusion is erroneous, and based on a selective memory which is the kind usually favored by nostalgics. Being honest: Luongo's play has not declined since then. Roberto Luongo is still a great goaltender.

I bet the OP forgot that the GWG in game five of the series versus Anaheim in 2007 was a softie that was badly misplayed by Luongo. He was looking at the ref and gesturing for a penalty on an earlier play, and didn't bother to notice the puck heading at him until it was too late. Of course he still played well overall those playoffs--but lost the game on a gaffe.

Here's a youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBLbVUPOoh8

Skip to 1:05 in that video.

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10-31-2011, 09:02 PM
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I think at least partial credit (read: blame) should be given to Rollie Melanson. His "big goalies should play deep in their net" philosophy provided Carey Price with some of the worst numbers of his career, and doesn't appear to be doing Luongo many favors either.

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10-31-2011, 09:03 PM
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Any goalie that can come 2nd in Vezina voting and backstop a team to game 7 of the finals is good enough for me no matter how many bad games he has sprinkled in there.

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10-31-2011, 09:04 PM
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Having Rollie Melanson as your goaltending coach doesn't help matters either.

Trust me, I watched him nearly ruin several goaltenders in Montreal including Price. Hackett, Theodore, Garon, Huet all suffered under Melanson. He loves his goalies playing deep in their net. One of the better moves the Habs have made in recent years was hiring someone else.

Edit: Beaten to it. Point remains however.

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10-31-2011, 09:04 PM
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Here's a post from opendoor who is just spot on:

Quote:
Here's a quick and dirty look at various goalies' consistency in the playoffs. Basically I divided up their post lockout playoff games into 3 categories of save percentages of .920 and above, .880-.919, and below .880. I think that's a fairly reasonable range of great, decent, and poor games. Here's how the various goalies stack up in terms of percentage of each type of game (A=.920+, B=.880-.919, and C= below .880):


Thomas:

A: 61.9%
B: 23.8%
C: 14.3%


Kiprusoff:

A: 61.9%
B: 4.8%
C: 33.3%

Luongo:

A: 59.6%
B: 12.3%
C: 28.1%


Miller:

A: 53.2%
B: 19.1%
C: 27.7%


Ward:

A: 48.7%
B: 30.8%
C: 20.5%


Lundqvist:

A: 45.7%
B: 20.0%
C: 34.3%


Rinne:

A: 44.4%
B: 27.8%
C: 27.8%


Fleury:

A: 44.3%
B: 27.1%
C: 28.6%


Price:

A: 43.5%
B: 13.0%
C: 43.5%


Brodeur:

A: 40.5%
B: 29.7%
C: 29.7%





So in terms of those 10 goalies, here's how Luongo ranks for each type of game:

.920+: 3rd most

.880-.919: 9th most

less than .880: 6th most


So at least by that metric, Luongo is at worst, average in terms of consistency. Only Thomas and Ward have demonstrably fewer sub .880 games than Luongo and the rest are pretty much equal. And it's not like it's just 06-07 is holding his numbers up. If you remove that season he still has the following percentages:

A: 52.0%
B: 16.7%
C: 31.3%

Not as good, but still not out of line with the rest of the list, and none of those guys have their best season removed from the numbers.


Last edited by Trebek: 10-31-2011 at 09:06 PM. Reason: Flaming
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10-31-2011, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by SoTzuMe View Post
See, I don't get this. The whole team really blew it in the finals. How hard is that to see?
Come on, his goaltending was terrible when they had that 3-2 lead in the series.

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10-31-2011, 09:06 PM
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Having Rollie Melanson as your goaltending coach doesn't help matters either.

Trust me, I watched him nearly ruin several goaltenders in Montreal including Price. Hackett, Theodore, Garon, Huet all suffered under Melanson. He loves his goalies playing deep in their net. One of the better moves the Habs have made was hiring someone else.
I've said this on the Canucks board - I kind of wish the Canucks would drop the goalie coach for Luongo and let him police himself. When I've seen him at his best he's been very instinctual. Let him get back to that.

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10-31-2011, 09:09 PM
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I've said this on the Canucks board - I kind of wish the Canucks would drop the goalie coach for Luongo and let him police himself. When I've seen him at his best he's been very instinctual. Let him get back to that.
Wasn't Ian Clark the Canucks goaltending coach before Melanson? He's one of the best, and then he was replaced by Rollie? Unless Clark left on his own, that's just crazy.

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10-31-2011, 09:10 PM
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It will be saddening to watch Luongo decline as he ages, but for now we get to enjoy watching one of the best goaltenders of this era.

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10-31-2011, 09:13 PM
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Wasn't Ian Clark the Canucks goaltending coach before Melanson? He's one of the best, and then he was replaced by Rollie? Unless Clark left on his own, that's just crazy.
Yeah it was Clarke. I think Gillis hooked him in an attempt to get Luongo back on his game. Beginning of last season I believe.

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10-31-2011, 09:14 PM
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Maybe his team should simply go back to being a boring, trap-fest of a shotblocking bore that inflated his stats enough to where he... Also didn't win.

The problem in Vancouver is now that they FINALLY have some decent goaltending, with him and Schneider, they just have no clue what to do with it.

The best thing about having Luongo on that team is that the Sedins' vanishing act is never talked about. They played well for just one series last playoffs. (That's less than Luongo.) Or how Kesler always seems to get hurt when they need him the most.

Still, all is hindsight and hearsay. Let's say Boston was successful in trading Thomas when they tried... Then what?

Yeah...

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