Canucks vs. Sharks: Who should start in goal for Vancouver?

Rich Lam

The Vancouver Canucks face a 3-0 deficit to the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Quarterfinal. With the season down to a single game, questions have reemerged about the team's goaltending situation.

Entering the 2013 regular season, few thought Roberto Luongo would start the year as a member of the Vancouver Canucks. Fast-forward a few months later and even fewer believed Luongo would be the team's starting goaltender for Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal.

However, both scenarios ended up coming to fruition.

Following a tumultuous year that was supposed to be Cory Schneider's first as the No. 1 netminder in Vancouver, the Canucks find themselves having to deal with their goaltending situation while facing a daunting 3-0 deficit to the San Jose Sharks.

With Schneider battling an unspecified mystery injury, the Canucks began the playoffs with Luongo in goal.

Despite consecutive loses, Luongo fared admirably in the contests, allowing three goals on 28 shots in Game 1 and three goals on 33 shots in Game 2. By Game 3, Schneider was able to return to the crease. Unfortunately, he allowed five goals on 28 shots, which resulted in a 5-2 San Jose victory.

Now, questions swirl about what Game 4 holds for the Vancouver crease.

Sharks captain Joe Thornton stated his team was happy that Vancouver decided to take Luongo out because they felt he played well in the first two games of the series. Will head coach Alain Vigneault return to Luongo?

Will it even be Vigneault's decision to make?

It's well known that Vancouver made several attempts to deal Luongo prior to this season's trade deadline. If that remains the plan, does the franchise want to potentially complicate things with Schneider by benching him after a single start?

More so to that point, will anything even change regardless of whose in goal?

The situation in Vancouver -- meaning their deficit in the Western Conference Quarterfinal -- isn't solely because of goaltending. Schneider allowed some weak goals in Game 3, which didn't put his team in a position to win the game and he admitted as much post-game.

However, it's difficult to overlook that the Canucks have only managed to score a total of five goals and have yet to register more than two goals in any game. Depending upon your perspective, you can blame the lack of production on the Canucks' offense or the stellar play of a potential Vezina Trophy finalist in Antti Niemi (.945 save percentage, ranked fifth).

Either way, Vancouver isn't getting pucks to the back of the net.

Entering Game 4, the Canucks will be fighting for their playoff lives. Who will be backstopping the team during that contest remains to be seen but will surely be highly scrutinized.

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