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All We Want For Christmas

by Jeff Paterson / Vancouver Canucks
December 21, 2007

Mr. S. Claus
PO Box 12/25
North Pole

Dear Santa:

We, the forwards on 29 teams in the National Hockey League, have a special request that requires your help. We know it’s getting late and that you’re busy double-checking that list of yours, but this is urgent. Forget two front teeth (although Dany Heatley wouldn’t mind one), all we want for Christmas this year is some help scoring goals on Roberto Luongo.

We don’t know how much hockey you’ve been watching lately with the elves working overtime and the reindeer needing to be fed, but have you see what Luongo’s been up to? It’s ridiculous. He stopped 33 shots on Thursday night out-duelling Marty Turco and a streaking Dallas Stars team. That was two nights after his fifth shutout of the season when he showed up Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils. He’s 6-1-1 in his last eight starts. The guy is 8-0-2 in his last 10 games at GM Place and has given up just seven goals in that time. He’s given up more than one even-strength goal in a game only once since the end of October.

Do you hear us, Santa? Do you? Do you feel our pain, big man?

On November 2nd, after a 3-0 loss to Nashville, Luongo was 4-8 with a 2.92 goals against average and a save percentage of 89.8. All he’s done since then is go 11-2-3 giving up just 23 goals, posting five shutouts and he’s stopped 437 of the 460 shots we’ve thrown his way. That’s a save percentage of 95% over that 16 game run. It’s also helped Luongo move up the league-rankings to the point where he’s now second in save percentage (92.9) and third in both goals against (2.04) and shutouts (5). And clearly the fans are into this guy because he leads the Western Conference All-Star voting and should be a shoe-in to get the start in Atlanta next month.

Oh and get this. Since you last loaded up the sleigh and made your rounds, Luongo has gone 45-17-8. That’s right – he’s won 45 of his last 70 starts. The guy now has 10 shutouts in his first 103 starts as a member of the Canucks. Some of us knew what he was capable of from his time in Florida and on Long Island, but it seems he’s taken his game to a new level there in Vancouver. You should see the building rock when the crowd is chanting his name – or the one that really gets us is when they get that MVP chant going.

We are a league comprised of a bunch of well-paid, highly skilled players who strongly believe we should be able to score on any goaltender. But we just can’t solve this guy and it’s getting worse, not better. For a while there we were thinking we should get Petr Sykora’s stick bronzed because he was the only guy to score on Luongo in Vancouver in more than a month. We’d like to believe the Stars found a chink in his armour by scoring two on him on Thursday, but we’re more concerned that’s just going to motivate him even more.

That’s why we’re turning to you, Santa. We know it’s a stretch and it smacks of desperation, but you know what they say about desperate times calling for desperate measures? If we wait until Easter and ask the Bunny to help us, it’ll be too late. So we’re turning to you, sir, and asking you to bring us something – anything – for Christmas that can help us score on this guy.

We promise to leave cookies and milk out for you, Santa (‘cause we’re cookies and milk guys ourselves).

Safe travel and kindest regards,
The forwards on 29 teams around the NHL

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