Push-Pull Factors: Roberto Luongo and Rebounding from Being Pulled

As a goaltender, the worst feeling in the world is getting pulled from a game.  Well, maybe second worst after allowing a bouncing puck shot from mid-ice to trickle in for a game winning goal.  Nevertheless, Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo feels like ass after getting pulled for the fourth time in the 2010-11 playoffs — twice against Chicago in the first round and twice in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins.  Nothing builds confidence like getting chased…twice…in the same series!

But it is not like Luongo has never been chased before in his career.  And therefore, he knows what it is like to have to rebound from getting the hook.  So how has he performed?  Glad I asked, because the one person reading this probably was not going to ask.

I did a quick overview of Luongo’s career game stats and isolated starts where he played less than 60 minutes.  After accounting for games where he was pulled late for an extra attacker (empty net), I was able to come up with how many times Luongo has been pulled from games he started.  Now, in order to get this out in time for Game 7, I did not check the context of the pulls (i.e., was he injured or was he simply playing Swiss cheese in net?).

In 652 starts, Luongo has been pulled 59 times, or in 9.05 percent of his games.  In those games, he averaged 31.2 minutes, has a goals against average (GAA) of 6.78 and an 80.3% save percentage!

In the 58 games following being pulled (the 59th game is Game 7 tonight), Luongo is 34-20 (57.6 winning percentage), with one overtime loss, one time, and two no decisions (more on that in a second).  His GAA is 2.29 and his save percentage is 92.82.  He also has five shutouts in his rebound games.  There were 12 times where he did not start in his next appearance, in which case I took into account the next time he started.  And three times he was pulled in his very next start, which explains the two no decisions.

Now, that is for his career.  What about with Vancouver?  Well, Luongo has been pulled 27 times in 328 starts (8.21 percent).  Five times he did not start in his next appearance and twice he was pulled again in his next start (including the Chicago series).  He averaged 32.5 minutes with a 7.5 GAA and 77.27 save percentage in those pulled games.

His Vancouver rebound games?  A record of 17-8-1 (62.96 win percentage) with a 2.19 GAA and a 92.6 save percentage.  He also has two shutouts, including once already against the Boston Bruins (Game 5).

Now, so far in the playoffs he is 2-1 in rebound games.  He has a 2.05 GAA and a 93.3 save percentage.  He was pulled in one of his rebound games, but was superb in the other two (0.48 GAA and a 98.4 save percentage).

So what does that mean for Game 7?  Well, Luongo does fairly well in rebound games, but it is not a lock that he will bounce back and bring the Cup to Canada.  He has played well at home, but with a Game 7 anything can happen.

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