Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Once he was the learner...

The 5-0 thrashing Roberto Luongo and the Canucks put on Martin Brodeur and the Devils on Tuesday was one of the more impressive performances I've seen this year. It becomes even more remarkable considering the context: the Devils had won 11 of their previous 14 games, while the Canucks went 3-3-2 in a tough eight-game stretch that had them hitting the road, returning home for a single game, and going back out on the road. Luongo had also missed the previous four games with sore ribs, so some rust might have been expected, especially against his main rival for the Olympic goaltending job (who had gone 11-1-1 in his last 13 starts with a 1.68 GAA). Perhaps some sour grapes were involved as well, as Brodeur controversially won the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender over Luongo last year. Luongo was only 4-13 against Brodeur going into the game (although all of those games were when Luongo was playing with a terrible Florida team and Brodeur was with a very good New Jersey team), but he didn't show any nerves or rust, and made 31 saves for his fifth shutout of the season. The expected duel of the league's top goaltenders never materialized, though, as Brodeur looked disoriented (perhaps from playing outside the Eastern time zone for the first time this year) and allowed five goals on just 24 shots. As the Globe and Mail's Grant Kerr wrote, "[I]t was supposed to be a matchup of Canada's top goaltenders for the next Winter Olympics, in 2010. It was no contest, though, as Vancouver's Roberto Luongo made all the difficult saves, while Marty Brodeur of the Devils had difficulty with making saves after travelling west on Monday."
Luongo's dominant performance showed why he was just named the top goalie of the calendar year by Goalies' World magazine. Perhaps it's too early to say that Luongo has surpassed his once-mentor Brodeur, but the two of them are certainly in a class by themselves, and Luongo should give Brodeur a run for his money when it comes time to award trophies and decide the Olympic job.

Canucks' Links of the Day: The best of the interweb!

- Jason Botchford of The Province on how Coach Vigneault wants more shots from his top line
- Botchford on Aaron Miller's first goal in four years
- Jim Jameson previews tonight's Canucks-Stars clash
- The guys at Orland Kurtenblog talk to Dallas Stars' writer Mike Heika
- Grant Kerr of the Globe on Jason Jaffray
- Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun on how the top line needs to click
- Zanstrom's thoughts on the Canucks-Devils tilt
- Hoopsjunky (of Canucks Hockey Blog) previews tonight's game

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