Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Roberto Luongo Jersey Card

Remember when Roberto Luongo said the Florida Panthers should try to win some games, and then the fans might come back? Turns out that's what they've been doing, mostly on Bobby Lou's strong work, what with a .933 save percentage through 8 games for a Panthers team that stands at an impressive 4-2-3 considering their line-up.

Sure, an injury to Jonathan Huberdeau or another of their young kids could seriously hamper the depth-deprived not-quite-Miami-based team, but as long as their goalie keeps them in most games, they'll contend for the 9th spot a lot longer than for last place.

In my season predictions, I mentioned I thought Lou would be ''back in Vezina form'', and I really think he can finish among the official top-3 finalists. He's still elite-level, he did get to play in the 2014 Olympics for Team Canada, he is among the two or three best Canadian goalies with Corey Crawford. The Americans and Europeans (particularly Russians, Fins and Swedes) have caught up to Canadians (and particularly Quebecers, who dominated the 1990s), but Luongo's still in that conversation, definitely top-10 in the league, but what gives him Vezina consideration is his turning an under-average team into one that actually wins more than it loses.

At this point, some 10 games in the season, here is how I rank NHL goalies this season / projecting by the end of the season (some who are famous for their late starts get some slack):
1. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators
2. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
3. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
4. Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning
5. Jonathan Quick, Los Angles Kings
6. Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers
7. Jonas Hiller, Calgary Flames
8. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
9. Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils
10. Carey Price, Montréal Canadiens
I also see Semyon Varlamov, Ben Scrivens and the Anaheim Ducks goalies getting in that mix, and I'm positive Jaroslav Halak will get comfortable behind the New York Islanders defense.

But it sure feels natural to see Luongo in the Panthers' uniform:
That's card #J-RL from Upper Deck's 2005-06 Black Diamond set, the Black Diamond Jersey sub-set. It shows him wearing the Panthers' black uniform, and features an orange swatch, either from the shoulder of the white or black jersey, or the main part of the red one.

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