I’ve thought about this before about Luongo, but never is it more apparent than it is now.
Part of me wonders if we got the expensive, better version of Dwayne Roloson for 12 years.
Look, Luongo is a fine goalie – with good defensemen who clear the front of the net and sweep his rebounds away. However, I’ve seen a regression in his game this last year, in that his rebound control has been quite a bit worse, and he seems to lack confidence against plays coming out of the corner. Think back to Patrick Kane victimizing him last year in the playoffs for an entire series basically by coming out of the corner and either passing, jamming the puck or shooting. Luongo remained flat against the goal line to get across and cut off the pass across the crease – a classic good-goalie-on-bad-team move, because only such a player would expect the pass to get across. A goalie on a good defensive team would expect that the pass would be covered by the weakside defenceman and square up to the shooter.
Fast forward to the Olympics, on the weakest goal scored against him vs. Slovakia (about 32 seconds in):
And again, vs. the Kings in this year’s playoffs, and you’ll see him make a move to go flat against the line when the pass goes down to the corner, and then he can’t get back out again in time for the shot from the slot. This is game 1:
Luongo flattens himself out for the puck carrier in the corner, then gets beaten on the far side because he’s off his angle.
I think he’s simplified his goal tending style, which is good – earlier in his career he was a little all over the place – but it’s almost as if he expects to make every save with either his legs or his body now. He makes very little effective use of his long arms, preferring to keep them low when he’s in his stance, and just let’s them flail when he’s moving to make a save.
I sincerely believe that Luongo will get back to being the goalie we believed him to be when we traded for him. Everything technical is something that can be fixed or overcome; right now, however, he’s inside his own head and he just lacks the confidence required to be an all-world goalie. This may not bode well for this spring’s playoff run, especially with our best defencemen and our best defensive forward out with injury. Bah.