BY PAT PICKENS
That’s how many contests most teams have played so far this season. The New York Rangers are 0-2, and no one is jumping off the Empire State Building just yet. The Anaheim Ducks have scored 12 goals in two games, and nobody is quite ready to map their Stanley Cup parade route through Southern California.
Yet, two games were all it took for Roberto Luongo to be exiled from Vancouver forever.
Luongo’s two playoff starts in 2012 were satisfactory — three of the seven goals he allowed were power-play tallies, he was bulled over on Dustin Brown’s Game 2 goal, and Canucks broadcaster John Shorthouse even referred to Game 1’s first period as “The Roberto Luongo Show.”
There’s no question that Los Angeles Kings eventual Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick outplayed Luongo in two games head-to-head last April. But Quick outplayed every goaltender he faced last spring. He was better than Luongo’s replacement, Cory Schneider. He trumped Jaroslav Halak, Mike Smith and future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur en route to L.A.’s first ever Stanley Cup.
None, save Brodeur, had backstopped a team as far as Luongo did in 2011– when the Canucks fell just one game short of the Cup.
Yet none, except "Lu," lost their starting role. And when Canucks coach Alain Vigneault announced that Schneider would be Vancouver’s starter come 2012-13, Luongo requested a trade. Vancouver agreed to oblige. No sense, it seemed, in keeping a $5.33-million backup with nine years remaining on his contract.
Due to the lockout-induced roster freeze, media scrutiny swirled about Luongo’s future home. Yet on opening night — just three Canucks games after Schneider replaced Luongo — the plot thickened. Schneider stopped just only nine of 14 shots — and was pulled early in the second of Anaheim’s 7-2 win.
He stopped 10 of 12 and even earned “Lu!” chants from the Rogers Arena crowd. He followed that up with 30 saves in Vancouver’s second game, a shootout loss in Edmonton.
If you’re scoring at home, that means in their last seven games, Luongo and Schneider have played about three and a half games apiece. Luongo has allowed 11 goals, Schneider has surrendered nine.
The Vancouver Sun reported Tuesday that Schneider would start Wednesday against Calgary. Canucks general manager Mike Gillis also put to rest any fear of a goaltender controversy, telling the Sun that a deal was in place that would see Luongo traded.
“We have a potential deal in place with one team that has to do something with another player that they have,” Gillis told the Sun. “It’s not who anybody thinks it is and so we have to wait.”
But Gillis had better make this move quickly. Schneider’s confidence depends on it.
Plus — as this saga proves — fans, media and front-office types have short memories. Seven games ago, Roberto Luongo had backstopped the Canucks to the Presidents’ Trophy and was the goalie for the defending Western Conference champions.
Now, it appears he’s out.