Monday, December 19, 2005

Luongo And The Olympics

Its a common belief that Roberto Luongo is not having a great year and is not a consensus pick for the Canadian Olympic team. He makes my pick list, but not some blogger's lists. The common belief is that Martin Brodeur may be having a poor year, but he is a lock so the remaining goalies better be guaranteed to be on their game.

Roberto Luongo outplayed Brodeur in 2003/04 and is doing so this year as well. He doesn't show up at the top of the goalie stats in part due to the horrid defence the Florida Panthers have. That said, Luongo is having a pretty good year. Last week, he was named the NHL Player of the Week. He had a great performance Sunday night when he made 53 saves to help his Panthers team defeat the Washington Capitals 3-2. To show just how poor an outing this was for the Panthers, Washington (who had 55 shots against them) is the worst team in the East Conference.

Luongo has a losing record (12-15-4) when goalie stats are manipulated to ensure the majority of NHL goalies have winning records. Luongo's 3.17 goals against average is not very spectacular (it ties him with Dan Cloutier of Vancouver).

Luongo has face more shots than any other goalie in the NHL this year - almost 250 more than Olaf Kolzig (who is 2nd). His saves percentage of .913 is one of the better few in the NHL. Watching his games, it is clear that many of his saves are very hard saves. Florida allows a lot of high quality shots which serve to reduce any goalie's saves percentage.

In the past, I have argued that Luongo is the best player in the NHL although he is not currently in a position where he is able to truly dominate on a regular basis. The case that Luongo is the best player in the NHL is not a clear one, I think Peter Forsberg is the best player when he is healthy (but he isn't healthy often enough). I think that Jaromir Jagr has probably been the best player in the NHL so far this year.

I think Roberto Luongo making the Canadian Olympic team is a no brainer. It makes sense to go with the hot hand in goal when the Olympics come along, but it is quite likely the hot hand will be Roberto Luongo. These prospective Olympic teams without him are giving up a huge asset for Canada.

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