Is Aquilini sold on Luongo?
Ed Willes questions many things in his latest Canucks column in the Province, including if all-star netminder Roberto Luongo
fits into the Aquilinis’ plans for the Canucks.
“The Roberto Luongo
trade rumours would appear to be as credible as an Elvis sighting, until you start thinking about Nonis's firing.
“The conceit in Vancouver is the Canucks are a Stanley Cup contender as long as Luongo is here, and Nonis's plan was to build a team around the goalie, which, theoretically, could win now.
“So here's the question. In firing Nonis, is Aquilini rejecting that vision and does he now plan to blow up the Canucks? If that's the case, then firing Nonis starts to make sense.”
Luongo has played two seasons in Vancouver, taking the Canucks to the second round of the playoffs last year, before playing well for the most part this year, before struggling down the stretch.
“Add it up and it would appear that Luongo is good enough to make a below-average team average but, even at his best, isn't good enough to take it to the Stanley Cup.
“If that, in fact, is Aquilini's assessment of the team it then follows that Luongo should be moved for players who can legitimately change this franchise.
“Again, that presupposes there's a plan in place. We shall see.”
Willes also touched on the performance of European and North American players in his column. “In the NHL's regular season, six of the top 10 leading scorers were European. Before Sunday's games, seven of the top 10 leading playoff scorers were North American as well as 15 of the top 20.
“It goes deeper than that. In Minnesota, the Wild's been eliminated after Marian Gaborik produced one assist in six games against Colorado. In the East, Euro-heavy lineups in Montreal and Washington face elimination. We're not saying you can't win with European players forming the bulk of your core, and Jaromir Jagr and Evgeni Malkin have been spectacular thus far.”
If nothing else, it’s great food for thought.
Moose level series in overtime
The Manitoba Moose escaped with an overtime victory in Game 2 of the American Hockey League’s North Division semifinal against the Syracuse Crunch, but Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press says the team could have come out of Syracuse with more.
“The Manitoba Moose have pocket full of loot but the nagging feeling that it could have been a richer haul.”
Despite a hard-earned 3-2 overtime win Saturday night, which evens the best-of-seven series at 1-1, the Moose let the first game of the series slip through their fingers.
They led 1-0 in Game 1 before Syracuse sent the game to overtime with a late third period goal. In the extra frame the Crunch needed only :30 seconds to draw first blood in the series.
Manitoba almost experienced a little déjà vu Saturday night as they led 2-0 through two periods, yet couldn’t hold off Syracuse as they scored two third period goals to once again force overtime. Moose grinder Mike Brown ensured his team came away with the win, however.
"We knew we needed this win and there are no ties anymore," Brown told Lawless. "It's everything you've got. I was looking for an edge and a chance and I got this goal.
"That's one of my only overtime winners so I guess it's one of the biggest goals of my life so far. It's quite a rush to have your teammates come over the boards. Especially for a guy like me that doesn't score many goals."
The series now shifts to the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, where games 3, 4 and 5 will take place starting Tuesday, April 22.
Moose not in a sweat - Prepared to wait for call to the NHL
Ben Kuzma says Manitoba Moose goaltender Cory Schneider
is feeling better after having to leave Game 2 of the North Division semifinal after experiencing severe leg cramps Saturday night.
"My legs are a little sore but they're not cramping up any more, which is good," said Schneider. "Hopefully, I'll just take some extra fluids, stretch out and get everything back to normal for Tuesday."
In the hot Syracuse arena, he could feel his body tighten up in the second period. By 4:20 into the third, the 22-year-old Marblehead, Mass. native could barely move.
"I went to make a split save on a rebound and both the quads in my legs just kind of locked up. I couldn't even bend them. I was just trying to crawl back to the crease and it was pretty bad. I've had minor cramping, like something in my hip, but it would just go away.”
Judging by how Schneider felt Sunday, the 2004 first-round draft pick expects to continue a strong second-half surge -- including rookie-of-the-month honours in March with a 6-0-1 mark, 1.27 goals-against average and .950 saves percentage -- that could have him on the NHL track faster than expected.
After a slow start, Schneider has finally turned the corner and is now looking like the elite tender many believed he would be. Leaving the sanctuary of Boston College took some adjusting for the highly-touted Vancouver Canucks prospect, but he is now in the zone and hoping to back-up Roberto Luongo
in the near future.
"If if was up to me, I'd be there right now, but I know that's not the case," said Schneider. "I feel pretty good right now, but that [NHL] is an even bigger jump than the one I just made. If I need more time here [AHL] and whatever it takes, I'm willing to do it. I've got to be patient."