x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

No shades of grey in the career of Canada’s Roberto Luongo

The Vancouver Canucks goaltender is world-class, but while he can delight in one game, he frustrates just as much in the next, writes Rob McKenzie.

Roberto Luongo, the Vancouver Canucks goalie, left, has had blow-hot-blow-cold performances in the NHL. Jonathan Hayward / AP Photo
Roberto Luongo, the Vancouver Canucks goalie, left, has had blow-hot-blow-cold performances in the NHL. Jonathan Hayward / AP Photo

I am Canadian and Roberto Luongo worries me. His career is analogous to this passage from Cole Porter’s Sailor’s Chanty in Anything Goes: “There will always be a wifey swell/ to give you heaven and to give you hell.”

Luongo gives you heaven and he gives you hell; there is no in-between. It is always drama with this guy.

Take the 2011 Stanley Cup finals.

Game 1, he shuts out the Boston Bruins, and the Vancouver Canucks win 1-0. Game 2, he stops 28 of 30 shots and the Canucks win again.

All good, so far.

Game 3, he brings the hell: eight shots fly past him and the Canucks are devastated. Game 4, he surrenders four goals on 20 shots and is pulled from the net in favour of Cory Schneider. Game 5, Luongo shuts out Boston – again. Game 6, he allows four goals in a span of barely four minutes and is yanked from the net – again. Game 7, he is back on the ice for the decisive, inevitable 4-0 loss.

On the other hand, he was in net when Canada won gold at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and his goals-against average was a solid 1.75. And for the most part he has played well this year, when healthy.

On Wednesday, though, he allowed four goals in a span of five shots as Vancouver lost to Chicago 5-2.

He does not inspire peace of mind. He is a needless variable.

He can take a good team and make it great; yet he may take a great team and make it merely good.

rmckenzie@thenational.ae