If you’re going to lose, do it with your best.
That’s how Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault approached the series after going down in the series 0-2.
Roberto Luongo allowed seven goals in the first two games, and there was no reason to pump his tires.
Cory Schneider is a proven backup goalie, and it was time to put him to the test in a high-pressure game. He went 1-2 over the next three games (including tonight’s loss) and allowed just four goals, racking up goalie-leading stats in GAA (1.31) and save percentage (.960).
The significance of Schneider’s dominance, which was unrewarded with a lack of Vancouver offense, and the lead-in to elimination at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings, is that Schneider’s two-year contract is expiring.
He can shop around for a team willing to bring him on as a No. 1 or squeeze a bit more money to stay as the Canucks’ backup.
Chances are, Schneider will do pretty well for himself this summer.
The flip side to Schneider’s success in the crease is that he’ll replace Luongo in net while the Canucks look to trade his remaining 10 years and over $6-million-a-year worth elsewhere. Luongo also has a no-trade clause.
Some suggest that Luongo will only be attractive to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.
Still, common sense should dictate that these teams have learned from hasty goalie commitments.
The last two years have really been Schneider’s transition years as he’s emerged as a well-rounded backup to a formidable starting goalie.
Regardless, Schneider’s worth can vary, depending on the demand for goalies this offseason, and the markets shopping, including Vancouver.
Other youngsters (experience-wise) such as Mike Smith, makes $2 million, while Antti Niemi signed a one-year deal with the San Jose Sharks after his time with the Chicago Blackhawks for also $2. He now makes a hit of $3.8 million, after that one year.
So, if Schneider can find the right team, he’ll stand to make a little more than $2 million, easily.
At least he has the chance of being the anchor of a team’s destiny, rather than second fiddle, or, in Luongo’s case, a spare tire.