Roberto Luongo isn’t rounding into elite form yet. He just appears to be settling in for the Vancouver Canucks. While he’s been a member of this team since the 2006-07 season, you’d have to forgive Luongo for considering himself a bit of an outsider over the last two seasons.
He’s got 10 games under his belt now in his second stint as the bona fide No. 1 goalie in Vancouver, and has performed better in the most recent set of five games than he did out of the gate. Luongo gave up 15 goals in the first five games on the year, dropping his record to 2-3 in the process.
Luongo is 4-0-1 across his last five contests, and has managed to steal wins in the shootout for the Canucks. Is he challenging his 2010-11 form? Not yet. Not by a long shot really, but the more Luongo wins, the more confidence he’ll have. He’s the kind of goalie that can go on some pretty lights-out runs, and he’s starting to pile up slashes in the win column.
With no one breathing down the back of his neck after one of two bad starts, Luongo is free to have a bad game or two. One of the most important functions of the mind in general is the ability to forget. That’s especially true to goaltenders at the NHL level.
Before, Luongo couldn’t put bad games behind him. He’d end up watching Cory Schneider from the bench every time he let in a stinker. He’d have to hear it from the media and the fans about how he’d buckled yet again. He wasn’t allowed to perform arguably the most important part of his job, which is just moving on from bad games, bad periods and bad goals.
With a 2.55 GAA, Luongo isn’t burning the world down at this point, but he hasn’t had to. The offense has looked great in front of him, and there are no signs in the stands during home games calling for his head. For him to be put on the bench in favor of Eddie Lack. For the first time in recent memory, Luongo doesn’t have to put on a show or act like everything is alright.
Because everything is alright. One of the most underplayed storylines of this young season has been how Luongo will perform without back pressure from a starter. So far the results haven’t been Vezina worthy, but they’ve been good enough.