Roberto Luongo: "Nothing can stop me!"
Die Titelstory der nordamerikanischen Fachzeitschrift "The Hockey News"
beschäftigt sich mit Roberto Luongo - einem der besten NHL-Keeper - der
nach sechs Jahren endlich zum ersten Mal in die Playoffs will:
By Mike Brophy
generally lets his actions do his speaking for him.
But when he’s reminded – for about the millionth time, much to his annoyance –
about the fact he has yet to appear in a playoff game after six NHL seasons,
the 27-year-old Luongo makes a Messier-esque prediction: “I will be in the
playoffs this year. Nothing will stop me!”
That’s a pretty bold statement from a guy who, it could be argued, tends goal
for a team that is not significantly better than either the Islanders or
Panthers were when he played for them. Not only that, the Canucks play in the
tightest division in the NHL, the Northwest, where very few points separate
first place from last and the conference’s No. 3 seed is in danger of falling
out of the playoffs completely. Although Vancouver
has been hot of late, there is still a lot of hockey to be played and the
season will end in heartache for at least two, if not more Northwest teams.
Of the eight Western Conference teams sitting in playoff spots as of Feb. 7, Vancouver was tied with Dallas for the fewest goals scored (144) and
were tied for fourth in goals-allowed (138). The team’s top scorer, Daniel
Sedin, used a five-point explosion against Edmonton Feb. 6 to climb above the
point-per-game pace with 55 in 53 outings, which left him trailing the NHL’s
leading scorer, Sidney Crosby, by 31 points. Markus Naslund, once a Hart Trophy
contender and top-five forward in the NHL, had just 17 goals in 54 games,
though he was coming to life playing with the Sedin twins.
On the flip side, the Canucks have an underrated defense and a a rising star in
Kevin Bieksa to go with a sixth-year power forward in Taylor Pyatt who is
finally showing signs of being a consistent offensive contributor. And their
penalty-killing has been utterly superb.
At the end of the day, though, the Canucks will go only as far as Luongo
“I feel different this year,” Luongo says. “I don’t really know how to explain
it, other than to say I just have this feeling this is the year for me. I feel
my time has come and that I have elevated my game. Just look at the way our
team is playing now. It seems like every year I have been on teams that do OK
in the first half, but then fade in the second half. This year, we went on a
seven-game winning streak after Christmas and we have continued to play well.”
Indeed, the Canucks won seven straight contests, including five against
Northwest rivals and two in Calgary.
Not only that, since Dec. 26 Vancouver
had 13 wins, three regulation losses, an overtime defeat and two shootout
losses. All told, that’s 13-3-3…not bad. And while it appears Calgary is
positioning itself to be the power in the Northwest, having scored 26 more
goals than the Canucks while allowing three fewer (with a game in hand), we all
know what can happen in the Western Conference if a team makes the playoffs and
then gets hot.
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