April 30, 2009
You probably want to know why I think so. Well, the answer is rather simple: Roberto Luongo.
He's the best goalie on the planet. And his groin injury, the one that caused him to miss almost two full months of action this season, is the best thing that could have happened to him, and the Canucks.
For once, Luongo is well rested. In fact, he's just heating up. Including Vancouver's first-round sweep of the St. Louis Blues, Bobby Lu's played only 58 games this season. The last time he played less than 60 games, and saw just over 3000 minutes of action, was all the way back in 2001/2002. That was a long time ago. The Toronto Maple Leafs were good back then.
Since 03/04, and post-lockout, Luongo's been a 70-plus games goalie. This is the first season since the 2002/2003 campaign that he's faced less than 2000 shots on goal. That's huge.
Luongo tearing his groin was a blessing in disguise. He returned to action near the end of January, and found his game on February 3. Of Vancouver's final 30 regular season games, Luongo lost only six of them in regulation. Since February, he's been a man possessed.
Luongo's save percentage in February: .914.
Luongo's save percentage in March: .930.
Luongo's save percentage in April: .918.
Luongo's save percentage so far in the playoffs: a ridiculous .962.
Have I told you lately how much I love a good save percentage? Swoon. I won't lie, Luongo's playoff stats leave me all hot and bothered.
The second round of the playoffs (!!!!1) begin tonight and, make no mistake about it, this is Roberto Luongo's time to shine. If there's a goalie who can take his team to the promised land on his back, it's he.
Vancouver still has a ways to go, but I'm looking forward to seeing Gary Bettman present the Stanley Cup to a goalie for the first time. There isn't a more deserving captain.
And here's hoping Mats Sundin shows up for the rest of the Canucks' run, and is worthy of being second in line to raise the most beautiful trophy in professional sports. I've imagined the moment many times, albeit in a Leafs jersey and not a Canucks jersey, and look forward to crying like a schoolgirl when it comes to fruition.