Goaltending has been the story of the Vancouver Canucks for almost two decades. In the early 2000’s they were considered a “goalie graveyard” and goaltending ended up being their pitfall for many west coast express led teams.
Dan Cloutier – who happens to be the current Canucks goalie coach – shouldered the majority of the games from the 2001-02 season until the 2003-04 season. Dan was prone to injury though, and through each of the seasons the Canucks never had less than four goaltenders on the active roster through the three seasons Cloutier was the starting goalie. The backup spot was a rotation of Johan Hedberg, Alex Auld, Peter Skudra, and Tyler Moss. Overall goaltending wasn’t in great shape heading into the lockout, and the revolving door of goalies didn’t lend itself to going far in the playoffs.
Following the lockout the Canucks had Cloutier for 13 games, and Alex Auld for the majority of the 2006-07 season. In the summer the team made a big trade though, bringing Roberto Luongo from Florida in exchange for a few pieces, the biggest being Todd Bertuzzi. Luongo changed the goalie landscape in Vancouver. He brought stability in the form of health and performance, and the Canucks finally had a goalie that could backstop them deep into the playoffs.
The Canucks also made a major addition to their crease in form of drafting Cory Schneider in the first round of the 2004 draft. Schneider didn’t stick in the NHL until 2010-11, where he played backup to Luongo in the Canucks Stanley Cup finals trip. In just 5 years since the Canucks had turned the goalie graveyard into a surplus of elite goalies.
As a team the Canucks were dominant in 2010-11, but without the stellar play of Luongo and Schneider they would not have made it to the finals, and may still be considered a goalie graveyard.