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Canucks Watch: Numbers support Luongo's bid for Team Canada's No. 1

Who would be your starting netminder for Team Canada at the Olympics?

It’s a debate hotly contested from St. John’s to Victoria and from Point Pelee to Ellesmere Island and you’ll never conclude the argument with all sides in agreement.

I recently found myself enthralled in this debate taking the side of Vancouver’s captain, Roberto Luongo. I can understand an argument for Marc-Andre Fleury and I could live with the decision of Martin Brodeur, but to me Luongo is currently the best and most athletic of the bunch, capable of backstopping the deepest collection of world-class talent to Olympic gold.

At The Hockey News, we’re currently working on an issue about the greatest players of the past decade. It’s a great way to measure consistency and longevity when you analyze which goaltenders have the most wins, best save percentage and lowest goals-against average since Jan. 1, 2000.

Of course, Luongo ranks among the best in all the major categories. He started his career in 1999-00, so Brodeur had the slight edge of already being a veteran when this timeline started, but Luongo is right there with the all-time great.

Brodeur is first in games played, wins and shutouts, with Luongo second, fourth and third, respectively. The only stat Luongo appears towards the bottom of is GAA, with a 2.56 mark, putting him 23rd and in with the likes of Patrick Lalime, Arturs Irbe and Ty Conklin. But keep in mind, Luongo toiled for the Florida Panthers in five playoff-less seasons behind a defense led by Robert Svehla, Sandis Ozolinsh and Brad Ference – not exactly the murderers’ row Canada is blessed with.

Ever since his move to Vancouver, a team with real upwards aspirations, Luongo’s GAA hasn’t finished higher than 2.38.

The fact he’s been at the top of the pile despite drowning on some of the league’s worst teams is testament to how good this guy is. Heck, even his playoff record, despite the stigma of last season’s playoff finale, is impressive. A 2.09 GAA and .930 save percentage outweigh the more team-oriented 11-11 record.

Would I have a problem if Brodeur was picked as the No. 1? Heck no, how can you say no to the all-time best? But at some point you have to hand over the reins and Luongo is that guy you go to.

Sure Fleury has his Cup, but you’re telling me Pittsburgh would have done worse with Luongo?

What it all comes down to is to just watch them. They’re all world-class and all deserve a spot on the squad, but when you really break it down and realize Luongo’s massive, steadying, overbearing presence in the net, it’s easy to see why his talent is the one that should be leading Canada in 2010 and not constantly poked and prodded for a perceived lack of results.

This article also appeared in the Vancouver Metro newspaper.

Rory Boylen is TheHockeyNews.com's web content specialist and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Tuesdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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