It's been a fairly underreported story, but apparently Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo was replaced in Tuesday night's loss to the Edmonton Oilers by backup Cory Schneider and apparently Schneider will make a scheduled start against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night with Luongo on the bench.
(Which means he'll probably pitch a shutout, and give his coach a delightfully tense goalie decision to make about Saturday night's showdown with the Washington Capitals …)
Meanwhile, there's another goalie controversy playing out in St. Louis, albeit one that lacks the time-pumping theatrics of The Days of Our Luongos: Brian Elliott vs. Jaroslav Halak.
Elliott, who will make $600,000 this season, has started three of the last five games for the Blues and won all three starts. In another game, he appeared in relief of Halak in the third period of a 5-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
Halak, who will make $3.5 million this season, has a 3.47 goals-against average and a terrible .835 save percentage in five games, all of them starts. Elliott has a 2.06 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage in four games, and will start again against the Canucks.
He's given the Blues a comfort zone with his play, and they've responded by blocking a ton of shots in front of him and putting up more goals than they had for Halak. Coach Davis Payne's mantra has been "performance plays," and Elliott's been the one performing.
Performing well enough to be considered the team's No. 1 netminder? Jeff Quirin of the Blue Note Zone says not yet:
Elliott remains the go to choice for Payne and will continue to be till he falters or the schedule favors a change. Meaning Halak will need to prove his mettle in practices and jump on the first opportunity to get back in net. If the scenario continues on, talking about in to the holiday season, then the tough questions associated with a goalie controversy should be asked and answered.
While he is on fire right now one big defeat might make everyone come down from this high and look a bit less harshly at Jaroslav Halak. Point of the matter is we shouldn't be too quick to anoint a new "starting goaltender" by definition. We are barely scratching the surface on the 2011-12 season. It's far too early to run Halak out of town and far too early to label Elliott the savior. Right now, the Blues should just go with what's working, hope Halak sorts out his issues and constantly reassess the situation without making any hasty long-term decisions.
The lingering skepticism for Halak is that the 4-year commitment the Blues made to him was based on a ridiculously good playoff performance for the Montreal Canadiens that he can't replicate. That rather than a starter, they acquired a tandem goalie who needs a Brian Elliott to fill in when he's gone cold.
Wow: a goalie who is unbeatable in the playoffs but average in the regular season.
The Canucks would kill for such problems …