If you were a longtime Canucks’ fan who, say, had just spent the last year on a space probe to Jupiter and dropped into The Rog for Game 1 of the 2013 playoffs, you’d probably think, "Geez, I haven’t missed much." There was Roberto Luongo, playing in the Canucks’ goal. There was Luongo playing pretty well for 30 minutes. Then there were three straight San Jose Sharks’ goals, a 3-1 Sharks’ win and a general feeling of frustration and disappointment in the land. Yes, you’d think, this is just the way I remember it. Trade the Sharks for the Los Angeles Kings, in fact, and you pretty much had every game from the 2012 opening-round series in which the Canucks were dispatched in five inglorious games. But then you’d learn of everything that happened in the year you were in deep space and you’d say, "Sorry, I don’t believe any of it." And, really who in their right mind would? "I felt pretty good in the first," Luongo said after the fact. "It gave me a good rhythm for the rest of the game, but when you’re on the losing end, you want to find a way to do more." And that too sounded familiar to Canucks’ fans. A little too familiar. Wednesday night, which was three nights after Goalie Confidential finally seemed to have run its course in Edmonton, the forgotten man stepped into the Canucks’ net, played alright and ended up as the losing goaltender for the fifth straight postseason home game. It didn’t really matter that Luongo was among the least of the Canucks’ worries on this night. It didn’t really matter that he held his team in the first period when they were flatter than Saskatchewan. The more pressing issue for the Canucks — in no particular order — was a clearly hampered Ryan Kesler coasting around the ice; an ineffectual pair of Sedins and an attack that generated precious little against the efficient visitors from NorCal. But in this, as all things with the Canucks this season, the soap opera remained the main talking point, the lead story in an otherwise forgettable evening. Maybe it’s just a one-day story and Cory Schneider returns to the Canucks’ net for Game 2. That’s, at least, what the Canucks should hope for because it seems the weight of the goaltending saga is starting wear on this team. Luongo, who was named the surprise starter for Game 1 after it was determined Schneider wasn’t sufficiently recovered from his groin-knee-body thingy, actually looked like ‘07-Luongo over the first 32 minutes as the Canucks opened a 1-0 lead against the run of the play. He was stiletto-sharp in the first, turning aside all 15 shots, including a five-alarmer off Marty Havlat early in the game, and, for a minute, there was the distinct possibility that Luongo was writing an even more remarkable chapter to this story. Then Logan Couture scored on a Sharks’ power play; Dan Boyle scored on a broken play, and Patrick Marleau iced things with 5 ½ minutes left. As mentioned, you couldn’t exactly pin this one on Luongo. But there also seemed a certain stale sameness about the Canucks’ effort that goes back to last year’s series against the Kings. "All of us have to push that extra five per cent to get those scoring chances," said Daniel Sedin.
The more things change, the more they stay the
Vancouver Province | May 2