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Toast of the town: Roberto Luongo

Wednesday, 04.29.2009 / 12:52 PM / Conference Semifinals: Vancouver vs. Chicago

By Derek Jory - NHL.com Correspondent

To the untrained ear, fans of the Vancouver Canucks are the most unappreciative in the league. They've got the greatest goaltender on the planet in Roberto Luongo. Night after night, week after week, month after month, year after year he makes save after save and all they do is boo.

To the untrained ear, that is.

The razzing that supposedly rains down is in fact a chorus of LUUUUUUU; it's how Canucks fans show Luongo some love.

The cheers have been intense since Luongo joined the Canucks three seasons ago, but nothing thus far has compared to the support he got in the opening round against the St. Louis Blues -- and for good reason.

It was borderline mean the way "Lui" bullied the Blues in the first two games of the series stopping 55 of 56 shots for a 0.50 goals-against average and a .981 save percentage with one shutout.

His numbers were a little higher when the series was complete (if a 1.16 GAA and a .962 save percentage can be considered high) as Luongo was the backbone behind the franchise's first four-game sweep.


ROBERTO LUONGO
GOALTENDER - CANUCKS

GP: 54 | W: 33 | L: 13 | OT: 7
SAVE PCT: .920 | GAA: 2.34

When Canucks coach Alain Vigneault and General Manager Mike Gillis named Luongo team captain last September, this is exactly the effort they expected to see from the all-star netminder.

Things are rosy now, but they weren't in January when Luongo returned from injury and was unable to stop the bleeding as Vancouver suffered through an eight-game winless streak.

Looking back, that added to Lui's aura because, unlike last year when a string of losses collapsed Vancouver's house of cards, this season he responded with divine, acrobatic, oh-good-golly-how-did-he-stop-that play down the stretch winning 22 of his final 30 starts.

The character, determination and fortitude Luongo displayed in the face of adversity reminded everyone, especially those who have made a habit of questioning his play, that he's the real deal.

If you listen closely enough these days, even Vancouver's biggest naysayers are cheering Luongo on like everyone else.

"LUUUUUUU"  has never sounded better.
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