Roberto Luongo’s career has been on a downward spiral since the Vancouver Canucks goalie lost to the Boston Bruins in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
Luongo was stellar in the Canucks’ three wins in the 2011 Cup Final but dreadful in the four losses, getting yanked twice in favor of backup Cory Schneider.
But Milan Lucic, who had two goals and an assist against his hometown team in the series, told reporters Monday that the goaltender takes too much flak for the Canucks’ Cup collapse.
“I think too many people point the finger too much on Luongo,” Lucic said Monday, via CSNNE.com. “I think he’s a great goaltender. He was still able to get them one win away from the ultimate goal. It shows what type of person he is, going through what he went through with how he was treated [in Vancouver] by everyone.”
Luongo was nearly run out of town in the two years that followed, with Canucks fans pushing for Schneider — who started 30 of 48 games last season — to take over as the full-time starter. Those shouts finally subsided when Schneider was dealt to the New Jersey Devils this past offseason, and Luongo returned to his place as the Canucks’ No. 1 netminder.
Luongo’s been solid in 39 starts this season, ranking just outside the NHL’s top 10 in save percentage (.920) and goals against average (2.30). He was rewarded with a spot on Canada’s squad for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which he backstopped to a gold medal at his home arena four years ago.
“He’s managed to keep his game at a high level, and he’s on the Olympic team,” Lucic said. “He’s still one of the best goaltenders in the league. It shows a lot about his character. I wish him all the best in Sochi. I’m Canadian, right? It’s the only time I’ll cheer for him.”
That camaraderie won’t kick in for another few days, though. The Bruins host the Canucks in their final meeting of the regular season Tuesday night, with Boston looking for revenge after an embarrassing 6-2 loss at Rogers Arena back in December.