NHL

Your Call: Which Canucks goalie should be playoff starter?

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Eric Rosales, TSN.ca Staff
2/1/2012 9:20:51 PM
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In their two biggest regular season statement games this year, the Vancouver Canucks made it clear they are serious contenders to capture the Stanley Cup.

What might not be so clear, however, is who will be in net to guide them on their playoff run.

It's the stretch run to the post-season, and what would that be in Vancouver without a goaltending controversy?

The latest stir stems from head coach Alain Vigneault's decision to start backup Cory Schneider for heavyweight tilts against the Boston Bruins, and more recently, the Chicago Blackhawks, as opposed to starter Roberto Luongo.

The January 7 game in Boston against the defending champions had basically all the same elements from the last time the two teams met in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final - except for the Schneider-for-Luongo swap in net.

What could have been a chance for Luongo to shake his demons in a rink where he suffered his toughest defeats in the playoffs, instead was turned into a local kid getting the chance to play in front of his friends and family.

Remember, the Canucks went into Boston with a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, and again with a 3-2 series lead, and Luongo gave up 15 goals, was pulled twice, and the only game that he didn't get the hook, he surrendered eight goals. The Canucks lost all three of those games before losing Game 7 at home.

Schneider played well to earn the win in Boston, stopping 36 of the 39 shots he faced, and held down the fort when the Bruins outshot the Canucks 19-10 in the third period.

Then came Tuesday night, and Vigneault again went with Schneider against the rival Blackhawks.

Schneider didn't just pick up the win, he was spectacular, and a big reason the Canucks won the game. He was particularly stellar in the second period, as the Hawks tilted the ice in their favour, outshooting Vancouver 15-6, yet could only manage to tie the game at 1-1.

His recent standout play prompted NESN broadcaster Jack Edwards to declare that there was no such goalie controversy in Vancouver.

"When push comes to shove, Cory Schneider is the starter in the playoffs," Edwards said.

The Cancucks' dilemma is they have two outstanding players that happen to showcase their craft at the same position.

In Luongo, they have arguably the best regular season goalie in hockey. Luongo is already the franchise leader in wins, and the team is committed to him long-term. He's just in the third year of a 12-year, $64 million deal.

But Luongo's troubles in the playoffs are well documented. Despite leading the team to the Cup Final, he was widely criticized during the Blackhawks series, when the Canucks gave up a 3-0 series lead before winning Game 7. And then there was the three tough starts in Boston.

In Schneider, they have arguably the best backup in the league, and a young netminder that could start for several teams in the NHL right now. He's in the final year of his deal and slated to become a restricted free agent this summer.

How the Canucks handle this in the spring will be interesting.

Now we want to hear from you: If the regular season ended tomorrow, who should be the Canucks' starting goalie for the playoffs?

It's Your! Call.

Cory Schneider, Roberto Luongo (Photo: Elsa/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Elsa/Getty Images)
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